Adrian Tasistro-Hart

When We Fight, We Win!

The following is an appraisal of the concessions that organized, militant student workers extracted from UC administration at departmental, campus, and statewide levels during the COLA labor actions. It is also an evaluation of the level of organization that made these wins possible. We seek to answer the following questions: Where did we win the most, and why? What did it take to win? And, crucially, given our current situation, how do we win again?

Labor Coalition to Defund UCPD

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.

No More False Alliances

The response to the Trump administration’s targeting of international students during the pandemic displayed the familiar tendencies of workers on the defensive, in a reactive mode. Amid the moral outrage, sloppy hot-takes, and airy condemnation of Trump and of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the majority of practical organizing saw UC graduate student workers align with UC administrators in sudden shared antagonism to the Federal Government. We, naturally, do not want to lose our visas and jobs; the UC does not want to lose a significant portion of its labor force, or its claim to a diverse and international research community. (The enduring connections between ICE and the UC hardly need to be rehashed here, beginning, of course, at the top, with former UC President Janet Napolitano’s tenure at the head of Homeland Security.)