Labor Coalition to Defund UCPD
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In the wake of this spring’s George Floyd rebellions, labor is getting organized across the country to demand the defunding and dismantling of the police. Indeed, the movement for police abolition grows in part out of decades of grassroots, rank-and-file labor organizing. In our own workplace, unions like UAW2865 called for an end to union support for police in 2015, a call that also insisted on the importance of labor actions to remove police from UC campuses. Police unions are part of the backbone of police power in the United States; the protections they afford to police officers create the conditions for unchecked police violence. As both unionized and nonunionized workers continually struggling for our own rights and protections, we can no longer tolerate union support for police, in our university or anywhere else.
As workers, our relationship to the police is one of structural antagonism, and we know this from personal experience. In February, multiple students and workers engaged in a labor action were brutalized by UCPD officers. We know intimately the fact that UCPD works hand in glove with university administrators to quash labor organizing and to protect profit; not to protect us, the workers.
UCSC spent $3.7 million on policing during the UCSC wildcat strike in February and March, which is equivalent to half of the entire UCSC police budget for 2018-19 (the most recent year for which data is available). UC’s top boss at the time, Janet Napolitano, reimbursed all of these expenses via her endowment fund.1 This gross spending on police repression of workers is in keeping with growth in the UCPD budget over recent years. The UC spent $138.2 million on police “base expenditures” in 2018-19, a dramatic increase from prior years. And there is no end in sight: the UC projects another budget increase for UCPD in the coming year, even while workers across the system are facing layoffs, furloughs, wage freezes, and generalized precarity due to new austerity measures.
As workers, we must organize ourselves and respond to these conditions, and we must do so now. We call for the formation of a labor coalition of workers, unionized and nonunionized, from across UC campuses. Only together will we have the strength necessary to counter the force of policing in our workplace.