Thousands Gather For Rallies Against UC Budget Cuts
Thousands of University of California students, faculty and staff gathered in Berkeley Thursday for one of many rallies held statewide to protest how the system’s Board of Regents has dealt with reductions in state funding.
A noontime rally brought more than 5,000 people to UC Berkeley’s Upper Sproul Plaza, according to Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of the University Professional and Technical Employees-Communication Workers of America union Local 9119.
Among other protests in the state, hundreds of people also gathered at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, where state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, criticized how the UC system was being run.
The rallies were a response to recent moves by the UC Board of Regents, which approved a plan in July to institute employee furloughs along with other cuts and fee hikes. UC President Mark Yudof also announced this month a plan to increase student fees by another $2,514 over the next year.
California University Cuts Protested
BERKELEY, Calif.— Thousands of students, faculty members and employees at the 10 University of California campuses protested budget cuts, unpaid faculty furloughs and tuition increases on Thursday.
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated that several thousand protesters were in Sproul Plaza chanting and waving signs. Most academic departments on campus reported that some classes had been canceled because faculty members and students walked out. Other campuses reported smaller turnouts at rallies and marches.
“Everyone agrees there is a budget crisis and that the university must respond,” said Joshua Clover, an associate professor of English at U.C. Davis who was a co-author of a petition calling for the faculty walkout on Thursday. The problem, Mr. Clover said, is that the administration’s handling of the budget cuts “disproportionately harms those who can least afford it both among the workers and the students.”
Thousands march in Berkeley over UC cuts
Thousands of UC students marched through downtown Berkeley and the area around campus this afternoon, staging a sit-down protest and blocking traffic as part of a demonstration against cuts to the university budget and proposed fee increases.
The unscheduled march started at the end of a two-hour rally on Sproul Plaza attended by an estimated 5,000 students, professors and other university employees. The protesters, shoulder to shoulder and chanting “Education should be free. No cuts, no fees,” marched through campus, passing by UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s office, and then went off campus to Shattuck Avenue, ultimately blocking all lanes of traffic for two block.
Labor Notes on the walk-out here. Also, an important take on the political limitations of the walk-out here.
4 thoughts on “California Students, Workers and Teachers Walk-Out”
(I know we’re not supposed to do one liners but I can’t restrain myself).
For real, this is exciting. Folks in Cali, we got your back up here in Seattle and we hope we’ll be able to do this kind of shit here too. We’ll be following closely how ya’ll organize and will take lessons from it for sure.
Obviously I am not at the UC system, but these are thoughts and questions based on the articles I have read.
1. Placing attacks on UC students and works in national and international perspective. this political perspective is linked to the organizational tasks which any student-worker movement faces int he upcoming months. The struggle has to break out of university demands and politically broaden itself out, which begs the question of what kind of organizations are needed to win gains.
For now the vehicle of trade union organizations is enough to start things off, but will they, in their current organizational form and political content be able to fundamentally reshape the balance of class power in the UC system and California broadly speaking? Looking at the track record of union struggles, this looks slim, leaving me to ask if SWAT and UC Berkeley Solidarity Alliance can dynamically reflect new social forces who wish to struggle more militantly.
2. American Leftist correctly points out the contradictions facing UC students and workers in terms of accepting California (in this case it is a national one as well) politics: the money going to the prison industrial complex versus higher ed. Shows where priorities lie and UC students-workers have to look at this. This ties in with race and immigration. Must have strong anti-racist and pro-immigrant politics because it is those people who are getting locked up. If people are soft on either of these positions they will not be able to drive a knife into liberal or outright conservative/ racist politics which make a false choice between locking up pocs and immigrants versus more money for higher education.
3. As society polarizes and the crisis deepens, half-way answers of reform will wither away, leaving space for more comprehensive solutions. The point American Leftist raises, signals in that direction.
The article above is UCB’s coverage on the walkout. UC admin is trying to co-opt the walkout to say, “we are angry too that the state cut $800 million from the UC budget…focus your energies to lobby Sacramento…we are vicitims too…not the bad guys.” So this is slick by the UC bosses, and is a critique that is thrown around by conservatives that it’s the state, not UC managers to blame.
Some of us in SWAT (Student Worker Action Team) which helped organize and animate many of the events and political groundings of the day) hope good sections of the mass democratic General Assembly (meeting for a 3rd time on 9/30) opt for a two front battle, with the UC bosses and state government for what they have done to UC, to CSU, Community colleges and K-12. This will be expressed in the 10/24 organizing conference to defend public education at UCB that the General Assembly has endorsed and something SWAT members suggested. This was also endorsed by folks at a SF State conference last weekend. We’ll see where this goes.
It’s clear though that firmer battle lines out of this student movement are being drawn. The UC bosses continue to have complete contempt for students and workers in its system. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tobar29-2009sep29,0,7972483,full.column You can also see this contempt that state leaders have to the CSU and community colleges which they run. Many students cannot get into classes, basic services cut, and employees furloughed for 24 days. So suggesting, as some do, that UC should be under full state control, while having some gains in transparency, is still substituting one uncaring boss for another. It is this idea that some liberals may push.