Our Economy, our State, and our University are in a state of crisis. Decision-makers at the various levels of government have been faced with tough decisions about the future of public institutions, including public education. Over the last several months it has become clear that decision-makers are intent on placing the burden of the crisis on students, workers, and student-workers. For the first time in history, UC students pay more for a “public” education than does the state of California;  public employees face the threat of job loss and sub-standard wages; and student-workers face similar threats, in the form of increased class sizes, longer hours, and fewer funding opportunities.

UAW 2865 represents 12,000 academic student employees and has a $2M operating budget, yet its presence on campus is marginal at best. Unlike many student groups with limited life spans, the union has an institutional permanence that puts it in a unique position to transcend isolated struggles and build a general program for a more equitable UC.

We are the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU). We believe that our union, UAW 2865, has the potential to become a powerful force in the fight against attacks on the integrity of public institutions. However, our union is broken; the existing union leadership has removed the locus of decision-making power from members and, as a result, has consolidated power within the union bureaucracy. An entrenched UAW 2865 leadership, including our current president, tend to pursue union rather than academic careers;  what’s more, Head Steward positions at UCLA have never been completely filled in at least the last six years, evidence of the distance between leadership and members. Thanks to the initiative of AWDU reformers, for the first time in six years, all Head Steward positions at UCLA are filled!

AWDU-UCLA reformers will fight to develop and maintain stronger connections between leaders and members. We pledge to make sure that learning about the union is easy and accessible. That means clearer, more regular contact with regular UAW members (you!). We have already begun organizing “Know Your Union” introductory sessions, union office hours, happy hours, cultural and community-building activities, and other informal meetings where concerned members can discuss work, union functionality, and make suggestions about the allocation of union resources. Our goal, finally, is to encourage meaningful participation and bottom-up involvement in the union by ending the practice of e-mail directives and notices coming from a top-down leadership.

We also pledge to bring real debate back into the union decision-making process. We will fight to make the struggle over the UC and state budget issues central to our program. Accomplishing this will require forming strong relationships with student-activist groups and other campus and community organizations who have already taken steps in the right direction. Increased student fees/tuition, the retrenchment of student services (including the Writing Center), and the proposed restructuring of Humanities threaten to undermine what has made the UC a distinguished public institution: Accessibility and Affordability to a high quality public education.

Stand with us and send a message to the UAW leadership and to the UC that we will not be silenced!


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