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.