We have outlined a 4-year plan to bring our union to supermajority membership and build the capacity to conduct powerful, militant actions that can win a UC for All. The history of left struggle shows us that successful movements have material, strategic goals, such as achieving voter-enfranchisement and desegregation of public institutions in the civil rights’ movement, abortion rights and pay equality in the women’s movement, or the eight-hour workday in the labor movement. In executing the below goals, over the next four years we will build a 30,000+ worker union with the capacity to win a UC that truly works for all its students and workers.
Organizing Research Assistants/GSRs
Organizing graduate and undergraduate research workers is essential for at least two reasons. First, it will put an end to the two-tier workplace system that currently characterizes grad student life at UC, where nearly half of student-workers do not enjoy the benefits of union representation and have no guaranteed rights. Second, it will nearly double the size of our union, giving us greater power and leverage to advance our collective demands as workers.
Our four-year plan includes two years of committee-building and political education, achieving majority membership of RAs/GSRs in STEM Departments and Graduate Researcher Groups across UC by June 2020. This will position RAs/GSRs to launch a card campaign to unionize and then begin negotiations with UC.
Building to Supermajority Membership
A foundational principle of our caucus is that we must build the capacity to hold majority-participation, disruptive actions (mass sit-ins, strikes, etc.) to win the gains we need for a just workplace and a UC for All. An engaged, educated, and supermajority membership is the cornerstone of our political program. We have a concrete organizing plan designed to bring our unit to 65% membership by May 2021, growing from 33% membership in 2017.
Majority-participation, disruptive actions can only be realized with active member participation, engagement, and membership-led decisions. Membership meetings must be maintained and uplifted as places for member participation to nurture a culture of membership engagement within our union, have meaningful decisions made by rank-and-file members, and develop a politically educated rank-and-file that is active and ready for majority-participation actions.
Union stewards in every department on every campus
We can only achieve the above goals, both quantitative (membership %) and qualitative (politically-engaged membership) by having active stewards in every department. We plan to have a steward in every department in a majority of departments at UC by May 2021, elected by student-workers in the department. The steward structure is integral to realizing our goal of a 1:50 ratio of union leaders to members across UC by December 2020.
These stewards will not only help to enforce the contract and engage in two-way communication with members in their department, but also build bridges between our union and GA/GSA organizations across UC. We plan to have robust relationships with every GA/GSA and strong coalitions with other student groups and unions by December 2020.
Building Strong Coalitions With Other Unions and Supporting Other Unions on Strike
Members of our caucus have already begun building relationships with leaders of other unions on campus and across California. In 2018 and 2019, we supported fellow UC Unions on Strike (AFSCME 3299, UPTE, CNA) and fellow teachers unions on strike (United Teachers of Los Angeles, Oakland Educators Association). We believe that building relationships and collaborating with our sibling unions is the best way for all of us to make big gains together now, and in the future.
Immediate next steps include attending UC labor council meetings, with the goal of collaboratively developing a Common Good bargaining agenda for UC unions by December 2021 and work towards lining up Contract Expiration Dates. We will also continue to work with the California Labor Federation and fellow California UAW locals to promote a progressive labor agenda in state politics.
Building Strong Organizing Committees (OCs) on Every Campus
Organizing committees are the engine of our union. They are loci for training new organizers, developing leaders, and planning campaigns within our union and coalitionally. We plan to have strong OCs established on every campus by June 2020, each of which will have committed representatives to our statewide OC for coordinating campaigns across UC. By June 2020, we will have stewards from every department at OC meetings.
Building Contract Enforcement Committees (CECs)
Contract enforcement committees are a subcommittee of every campus OC who focus on enforcing the nuts and bolts of our contract, ensuring that we reap the benefits of the contract wins for which we have struggled together. We will have a contract enforcement committee on every campus by June 2020. These committees will handle grievances, train stewards, and coordinate required joint labor-management and other committee meetings guaranteed in our contract.
Campus and Statewide Campaigns
While bargaining a strong contract is an essential plank of our caucus program, we know that a strong union is one that works relentlessly to better workers’ material conditions between negotiations as well. We will continue to wage campus-based and coordinated statewide campaigns around critical member issues, including mental health coverage, access to affordable housing, class sizes, international and immigrant students rights, and police demilitarization.
We are already in the early stages of planning pay equity campaigns by directly pressuring departments to eliminate pay disparities within departments. With the steward structure in place by 2020, we will be in a position to identify and build focused campaigns around department issues across UC.
Developing a Robust Political Program
Just as it extends beyond the contract negotiation season, our work to create material change is not bounded by the edges of our campuses. We plan to work with other unions and organizations to pass legislation that promotes workers’ rights and advances universal social programs. This includes supporting initiatives like repealing Prop 13 (which would end a corporate tax loophole, which would directly go to funding public education in California), tuition-free College for All, and winning affordable housing. To this end, by 2020 we plan to build political action committees to canvass, create voter guides for members on local and statewide measures and propositions, and to build coalitions with other legislatively-oriented organizations on campus.