November 17, 2009
Stand in Solidarity with UPTE Workers, Students and Faculty at UC
Bravo to the University of California staff, faculty, students and community members who are picketing, rallying and demonstrating at UC Berkeley and UCLA to oppose the devastating cuts being levied by UC administrators. The University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE CWA 9119) strike, which is in solidarity with the UCLA protests against the UC Regents' vote on the 32% fee hikes, shows the depths of the anger at UC President Yudof who is hell-bent on union busting and privatizing the premier public education institution in the country.
Public education is a right, not a privilege
With a recession brought on by the chaotic boom-bust cycles of capitalism, affordable and accessible public universities for all are needed more than ever. College is a lifeline for low-income, women, immigrant, people of color and those needing job skills. Yet never-ending tuition increases, partnered with escalating rent, medical and childcare expenses, equals increasing student debt and more families who can't afford to send their children to college.
UC administrators claim that quality education and students are their top priority, yet they have used the State of California's budget problems as an excuse to cancel classes, reduce enrollment, lay off teachers, janitors, clericals and technical workers, increase work loads and contract out jobs, undermine health and safety standards, slash support services and hike tuition fees a proposed 44% more in the last two years alone. At the same time, they give themselves huge pay increases and bonuses. The truth is that these outrageous actions are not necessary, given that UC has billions in reserve funds. UC's $5.5 billion in reserves could easily fill the projected $800 million two-year deficit from the state.
Tax big businesses to fund schools and services
The state of California spends more money on prisons than it does on higher education. The budget crisis is impacting all public education, with K-12 and the California State Universities (CSU) hit the hardest. Sell-out Democrats and Republicans have made draconian cuts from the bottom and decimated schools, healthcare, social services and public-sector jobs needed by low-income and working people while sitting on an untapped gold mine. In 2008, businesses in California netted $1.8 trillion dollars and enjoyed billions in additional tax breaks. Yet corporate taxes bring in only 7.8% of state revenue. Just as UC bureaucrats should "Chop from the Top," taxing the rich and corporate mega profits is the only fair solution. Corporations should be made to contribute toward educating the future workforce whose skill and knowledge they benefit from. It's time to stand up and say, "No more!" to balancing the budget on the backs of workers, families, children, students, undocumented, elderly, ill, the disabled and the poor.
Chop from the top
UC President Yudof should provide a living wage to low-paid workers instead of furloughs and retaliatory lay offs. He should cut the exorbitant $300,000-$800,000 salaries and millions spent on free rent and perks for management executives and bring rank-and-file staff and lecturer salaries to market rate. He must ensure that working-class students and students of color can complete their education, instead of jacking up fees by thousands of dollars. Yudof should open UC's books to let the campus community and taxpayers find solutions for balancing the budget.
Unless workers, students, faculty, and residents of California intervene NOW, the doors to higher education will close to all but the wealthy. The class, race, sex and immigration status divisions that public education is supposed to eradicate are making a horrific comeback. We must not let this happen.
Grow the movement for public education
The historic, militant, and broad-based offensive being waged by UC students, staff and faculty on November 18-20 is inspiring to all those being hit by an economic crisis not of our making. This burgeoning movement is gaining growing solidarity from other unions, campuses and social justice struggles - from the Zengakuren (All-Japan Federation of Student Self-Government Associations) to public school teachers in Los Angeles, Richmond and Washington State who are also on the front lines fighting to save public education! It's a critical time to finish the fight that was started on college campuses in the 1960's - student, staff, faculty and community control of higher education, and free, quality, schooling for all. United front solidarity is key to victory. And let's keep building on our efforts! By joining together in a general strike, we can shut the entire state down to win our demands. Let's not stop until we dump the profit system for one based on economic and educational democracy and true human fulfillment. Radical united action for fundamental change has got to be at the top of our agenda!
- Open UC's books! Public control of UC's income and expenses!
- Stop union busting! Rehire all laid-off workers! No furloughs!
- Rollback fee hikes! Fully fund financial aid for all who need it!
- Lift the hiring freeze and bring staff salaries up to market rates!
- Democratize the UC Regents - public control over educational institutions!
- Tax the rich and corporations - no budget cuts!
Issued by Campus Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party
To learn more about these multi-issue socialist feminist organizations and how to get involved in helping build the fight for public education and services, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 415-864-1278 or visit www.socialism.com.