George Ciccariello-Maher, Occupy Everything!
Advance the Struggle, Occupations Spread Across California
Bob Meister, They Pledged Your Tuition
“We are All Workers” is a zine produced by Democracy Insurgent as part of our campaign to fight the impacts of budget cuts and privatization at the University of Washington, Seattle. We are a group animated by principles of anti-racism, anti-imperialism, third world feminism, queer liberation and workers power. Our members are workers, students and unemployed workers. The push toward privatization has resulted in speed up, extra work and sweatshop conditions for workers on campus, hefty tuition hikes for current students, and reduced accessibility to the university for working class students and students of color. All these drastic attacks have been rationalized under the banner of “economic crisis” and inevitable budget cuts. However, it is a mystery why the University president continues to live in a UW student-sponsored mansion and makes about 1 million a year. It is clear that these budget cuts are an attempt to restructure the university and privatize education — this was already in the works for a long time, and the economic crisis provided the best legitimation for it.
This zine is the product of many ideas bubbling in the group over the summer. Some of us in DI were inspired by the Johnson Forrest Tendency, JFT, which produced the piece, “The American Worker.” “The American Worker,” a collaboration between Phil Singer and Grace Lee Boggs under the pen names of Paul Romano and Ria Stone, succeeds in “recognizing and recording” the workplace dynamics that Romano experienced as an auto worker in Detroit during the late 1940s. What is unique about the pamphlet, is that it captures both the rage and frustration that workers feel on the job, as well as the creative solutions that they come up with, that show glimpses of how a workplace free from managerial harassment and control, could function. These vignettes of everyday resistance and creation are best captured by a rank and file worker observing and participating in the informal workgroups and cultures inside the workplace. The pamphlet also highlights how work conditions, even more so than wages, is the key issue that brings workers together. Speed up, extra work, are working conditions that hit the nail on the head: Who controls your working environment and conditions? Who can push you to work faster, harder? Who do you need to fight to work better? In “American Worker,” Romano gives a vibrant and exciting portrayal of how these questions are fundamental to the workers, and how it is eventually workers self activity and power on the shop floor that can change these conditions. Continue reading “We Are All Workers” — stories of struggle at the University of Washington
The rallies, strikes, marches, organizing meetings, and occupations that occurred on September 24, 2009 across many campuses in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems were the product of the profound economic, political, and social crisis we current face. This crisis is deep in California where the state has cut billions from public education. UC administrators have used the state budget crisis as cover to quickly and thoroughly implement privatization measures through staff furloughs, layoffs, huge tuition increases, and cuts in services from the health center to trash removal and other campus safety measurers.
In California and throughout the United States, we are experiencing a structural adjustment; public services funded by our tax dollars are cut to the bone and privatized to the highest (or most well-connected) bidder. This is not unlike IMF/World Bank economic austerity measures imposed upon African, Asian, and Latin American countries over the past 30 years. These programs hollowed out public infrastructures there. Our rulers have no qualms imposing the same neo-liberal economic measures they use to support their imperialist agendas abroad as they do against working people in America. The two are in fact linked. So given the speed and devastation California state officials and UC management has acted with, what does the response by students and workers look like? This piece seeks to analyze the organizing efforts at UC Berkeley since summer 2009 to see how far we’ve gone, and how far we need to go.
Advance the Struggle has produced a very good assessment of the strategic and tactical debate inside the 9/24 walkout in California, and some key ideas and questions about where things need to go.
check it out.
“Some organizers at UC Berkeley stated that an occupation at that time would have been premature, and would not have advanced the anti-budget cut movement. It is defeatist and conservative to assert that an occupation would be “premature,” “out of place,” or “detrimental” to the movement. On the other hand, springing it on the general assembly by trying to lock down Wheeler Hall was straight-up reckless strategy……..Two days later at an anti-budget cut conference at SF State SUP was vilified by an alliance of Trotskyist groups, and other liberals, for being “undemocratic” for its perceived support of the failed occupation. This misconception was reconciled after a long discussion, but unfortunately obscured the real point of contention: the twin pitfalls of tailism (following behind proposals for petitions and legalistic protests) on the one hand, and adventurism (isolated militant action) on the other. Both of these approaches sidestep the political consciousness of the masses.”
“The strategic question faced is should there simply be legalistic mass protest in Sacramento, or can there be simultaneous “illegal” statewide shutdowns of numerous educational institutions and workplaces? Unions might engage in legal one-hour pickets, but union members should take this struggle into their own hands beyond the legalism of union politics. If a statewide strike is going to take place, we must think about what type of statewide organizational formation needs to exist for such a massive strike wave to take place. Politically, such a statewide network should see the bankruptcy of petitions, and of the general approach of petitioning power in a “respectable” and legalistic way. It should also not limit itself to advocating mass assemblies, but think a political step further about what to propose at mass assemblies in order to deepen the consciousness of the participants and advance the struggle.”
Thousands of University of California students, faculty and staff gathered in Berkeley Thursday for one of many rallies held statewide to protest how the system’s Board of Regents has dealt with reductions in state funding.
A noontime rally brought more than 5,000 people to UC Berkeley’s Upper Sproul Plaza, according to Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of the University Professional and Technical Employees-Communication Workers of America union Local 9119.
Among other protests in the state, hundreds of people also gathered at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, where state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, criticized how the UC system was being run.
The rallies were a response to recent moves by the UC Board of Regents, which approved a plan in July to institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes. UC President Mark Yudof also announced this month a plan to increase student fees by another $2,514 over the next year.
Continue reading California Students, Workers and Teachers Walk-Out
Here is an article originally from the blog, Advance the Struggle. The author, Esteban, raises important questions considering the size of the student population in the United States, the role students have played in radicalizing movements, and how they can think about themselves in terms of their own emancipatory capabilities. This is especially pertinent when student struggles break out of narrow university demands and into realms which directly impact the working class. Considering the U.S. has hundreds of public universities where working class students are struggling to get by, it is a matter of time, organization, and self-activity before these questions are bumped into.
There are many more points raised in this piece and I will not go into all of them, leaving it to others to raise insights, agreements, and critiques.
There has been a long history of repression by the U.S. government, college administrations and faculty against the Palestinian struggle and Arab organizers. In the 1960s the Palestinian issue arrived on the radar of the state when it became a source of solidarity for internationally-minded people in the United States and around the world. The General Union of Palestinian Students has long been a target of FBI intimidation. Islamic activists and secular nationalists alike have been subject to state harassment, arrest and deportation for decades on college campuses and in the community. They were a threat to U.S. empire precisely because they attempted to educate American people about the realities of colonialism and racism abroad. What’s more, their activity showed the possibilities of an effective people-to-people foreign policy inevitably in opposition to the aims and interests of the ruling class.
In Detroit in 1967 the Palestinian struggle became a crisis for the Wayne State University administration when John Watson, one the founders of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and then-editor of the campus newspaper the South End, ran a series of editorials against Israeli colonialism and supportive of Palestinian armed self-defense. Watson’s work expressed a vibrant current in radical Black politics at that time. It put forward perspectives that challenged the racist view of governments and ruling classes worldwide that Palestinians and Black people cannot govern themselves. It drew comparisons between the struggles of Arab peoples in the Middle East (and Detroit) and Black people in America. Watson was eventually forced out by the university administration and city government as they worked to regain control of the newspaper. What scared them was that students on campus were breaking the illusion of the separation of the university and the community—especially the false separation between mental and manual labor—making it possible to discuss ideas and plan for self-government in political, economic, judicial, military, and cultural affairs.
Continue reading Purging the University