Author Archives: Robert Wood

Our Endorsement

     We’re writing to express our endorsement for the recent vacancy election on behalf of the autonomous Irvine branch of the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union.  Michael Briante is running against Moshe Lichman in the upcoming election on October 29th and October 30th.  Both individuals have been involved in the union over the past year, however each individual represents very different traditions within the local.  Michael Briante is a strong representative of the AWDU tradition, having done on the ground work in his department over the past year, and having participated in the UC Davis student movement that played such a strong role in galvanizing the public education movement in the past years.  He is committed to the participatory direction of the union, and supports the contract campaign, which has transformed the negotiations into a far more participatory structure, bringing in rank and file members, allies from a variety of movements, and social justice issues into the bargaining process.

     Moshe Lichman, on the other hand, is supported by the old leadership of the local who were driven out of their positions at the last election, because of their support of the conventional top-down policies of the UAW.  Lichman continues to support those policies, and came out to the summer joint council meeting to show his support for a set of policies that would have placed the vast majority of bargaining during the summer when most of our membership is either off campus or working full-time in their labs.  He was part of the process that discounted the need of the local to get the information necessary to bargain with the university as equals, and to involve the rank and file membership in the process of bargaining.  Lichman, in many ways, represents some of the best qualities of the former leadership, and has been committed to bringing in new members, but he has shown little engagement or support for the larger social justice concerns of the local, or creating a more participatory local.

     For those reasons, we support Michael Briante for the position of head steward.  We need him in the Joint Council to continue to fight for a participatory democratic union that fights for social justice.  Our hope is that you will come out to the polls over the past couple days, and support the continuing reform efforts in the local.

      Look here for locations.


Paycheck First or Management

       We’re intending on writing a lengthier post about the various deceptions, errors, and lies brought out by the anonymous attack blog, Paycheck First as soon as we can.  However, we thought it would be worthwhile to put up a quiz put together by a friend and colleague, which reveals to what extent that the unknown authors of that blog have put together what could only be called a management echo chamber.  We strongly believe in a participatory and democratic union, and are open to substantial critiques of the current direction of the union, but we have really only seen rumor, innuendo, and character assassination out of this blog, along with egregious errors in regards to the legal structures around bargaining and the actual history of bargaining.  This quiz additionally reveals the extent that their blog echos the positions of management in bargaining.  We’re curious if Paycheck First has been taking the lead from management, or if management has been taking the lead from Paycheck First.  Neither option is terribly attractive.

Introduction to the Blog

      It’s been about four years since a group of us got involved in the union, in order to try to produce a more democratic and militant vision of our local.  At that point, our local was almost completely uninvolved in the student movement and the fight to defend the public university.  We saw demonstrations throughout 2009-2010 of hundreds, with students and workers willing to take the streets and engage in civil disobedience.  Additionally, we saw our local bargain two contracts with very little in the way of membership participation, that led to wage gains below the rate of inflation, and very little else.  We successfully challenged the the concessionary contract that was bargained in 2010 at Irvine, and when that was passed at the state level under very suspicious circumstances, we were able to throw the old leadership out during the triennial election.  We were able to win that election despite the efforts of the former leadership who attempted to steal the election by a variety of means, including shutting down the actual vote count.

        When we took over the union, we shifted the local away from the provincial and conciliatory position that it previously took, and began to commit the union to the fight for public education, and to the fight to refund the public structures of the state.  Through those fights, we were able to move the University of California system from double digit fee and tuition increases to a freeze in fees and tuition.  We contributed to the Make Banks Pay campaign that eventually led to the progressive taxation structure of Prop. 30, a proposal considerably more progressive than the initial tax proposition made by Governor Brown.  Through those fights, we were able to make our union, UAW 2865, a significant figure in the fights for public education and other fights, moving away from the provincial status that the union once held.  We did that through contributing to organizing militant actions that moved our membership from a passive support role, to actively participating in the structures of our union, breaking out of the top down strategies of the past, strategies that kept even email communication outside of the control of the various branches without approval of the executive board.

      However, we have seen a return of the old leadership in the past year or so. The same people who left the union in shambles, are trying to return to leadership.  Within that context, we’ve realized that we have not had an independent voice defending the record of reform in our local.  The purpose of this blog is to be such a voice.  As such, we are going to make an effort to inform folks of our efforts over the past four years, and to add a critical voice to the current debates in the union.  We will also fight to defend our record in the process of contract negotiations, as we try bring substantial new rights and benefits to our local.   We are in a position to win a strong new contract, however that fight needs to move beyond the bargaining table.  Only with a strong and democratic union, defined by the active participation of a rank and file, can we win the contract that we deserve.