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					FAQ on September 24 Actions

It seems like you could get fired for this. What are our rights as Graduate Student
Instructors and Researchers?

Under our UAW contract, we have the right to honor picket lines as a matter of
individual conscience. UPTE will be striking on Sept. 24, and we are therefore protected.
Keep in mind that a “partial strike”—i.e., going to class, taking roll and then walking
out—might void your legal protection. It’s safest, and the best way to honor the striking
workers and the walkout, to cancel class entirely. If you’re at Berkeley, tell them to join
the picket and attend the rally from 12-2 at Sproul Plaza. Most campuses are organizing
events for this day.

But it seems as if you’re calling for a suspension of teaching beyond the 24th?

We read the original letter calling for a faculty walkout as rather clear: it was not a call
for a one-day action but for an indefinite stoppage, pending the satisfaction of certain
demands. While grad students who cancel classes would not be legally protected by the
UAW on Friday the 25th and thereafter, we hope that significant support will develop
among faculty, staff and grad students for an extension of the work stoppages. We will
keep you posted on our website. But you need not commit to a work stoppage beyond the
24th to sign this letter.

What if we’re not teaching? Can we sign? What kinds of actions can we commit to?

Even if you’re not teaching this semester, you should sign the letter. We interpret the call
for a walkout, strike and work stoppage as a call to cancel all official university business.
We do not see the picket line as an attempt to forbid entry to campuses, but to forbid the
use of campus for any form of official work or study. We call for the use of campus for
non-work. It is in moments like these that we remember that the university is not a
collection of buildings and intransigent institutional forms, but rather the product of the
activity of workers, teachers and students. . .

What about my students? Isn’t it unfair to put any additional burdens on students already
suffering from higher fees and fewer classes?

The issue of undergraduate education is central to the walk-out. We strongly encourage
graduate students who are currently teaching to use the week leading up to the walk-out
as a “teaching moment.” GSOC will be providing informational material for GSIs to use,
and are setting up “GSI exchanges” for those who would like another GSI to come visit
their class to speak to students about the budget cuts. GSIs can also make the strikes part
of the education of their students by encouraging students to participate in the educational
events scheduled for mid-day on the 24th, or by encouraging students to visit the picket
line and ask questions of those participating in it. In fact, undergraduates have already
been very much involved in organizing for these events, both via ASUC and through
other organizations. A facebook page for “Students Against the Cuts” has 1,000 members
at the time of this writing, and is growing every day.

Further, we are expressly committed to emphasizing the impact of these cuts on our
students through our own actions on the 24th and thereafter. The second demand made in
our letter calls for “A complete rollback of fees to their 2008-09 level, and a permanent
freeze on fee increases beyond the rate of inflation.” The Regents have already
implemented a 9.3% increase in fees this year alone, and are scheduled to vote mere days
from now on an increase of up to 30% for next year. They have also proposed doubling
the percentage of out of state students, who pay tuition in addition to fees, to 26%, a
change that would signal the abandonment of the UC’s historic commitment to the
citizens of California and that would have significant deleterious effects on minority and
working-class students. The fee increases affect graduate students as well: though most of
us have our fees paid by our department, the money to pay those fees typically come out
of funds that would otherwise be used for fellowships and other non-teaching support.

Is it really possible for the university to spare furloughs for those under $40,000?

Yes, absolutely. As has been made evident by Professor Emeritus Charlie Schwarz’s
penetrating analysis, the growth of management positions at UC—at a rate of 3 times the
rate of growth in other full-time positions—wastes close to $600 million dollars.
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~schwrtz/Part_14.html,
http://ucpay.globl.org/letters.php?id=2. The regents have also approved wages and
bonuses in a time of financial crisis. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-
bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/08/06/BASG194N2P.DTL. The wage demands we have made
in the letter strike us as merely moderate. A stronger demand, with a goal of long-term
restructuring, would insist on some fair wage multiple—say, 5—determining the spread
between highest- and lowest-paid workers.

What about tuition? Is it really possible to roll it back to 2008-2009 levels? Aren’t lots of
those funds from the revenue-generating sector restricted?

The university has massive unrestricted reserve funding, both in its investment portfolio
and in surpluses from revenue-generating units like the medical centers and UC
extension. http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~schwrtz/Part_18.html. These funds exceed the
amount cut by the state several times over. While UCOP claims it can’t legitimately
touch these funds, many of which are funneled back into the units in the form of pay
raises, in the 1990s they did, in fact, use such surpluses to get through a shortfall.

Isn’t the real problem the State of California and its unwillingness to pay for public
education. How can you have a public education system without state funding?

California’s defunding and destruction of secondary and public education is shameful,
and any meaningful strategy will mean putting pressure on the state to generate and
disburse the necessary funding. As a near-term tactical measure, we think that creating
disturbances here at UC, right now, is the best way to get the attention of the state, a far
more powerful measure than writing imploring letters to the Governor and legislators
(though many of us will do that as well). But even if public funding were restored, an
important part of making UC a viable public institution is to force it to stop acting like a
corporation.

Aren’t these budget decisions made in some representative democratic manner, and thus
don’t they represent the majority position on how the budget cuts should be disbursed?

In fact, one of the most disturbing things about the management of this crisis has been the
wholesale abandonment of the principles of shared governance that are supposedly at the
heart of the UC system. On July 16th, the Regents voted to accord UC President Mark
Yudof “emergency authority,” and approved the furlough/salary reduction plan, despite
the fact that it runs roughshod over many union contracts. The powers granted Yudof as
of July were both extraordinary and unprecedented, yet even the emergency amendment
required that “planning procedures be followed for purposes of developing campus or
systemwide furlough/salary reduction plans, including participation from… Academic
Senate…and representatives of staff.” However when the Academic Council, which
represents the Academic Senates of all ten campuses, voted unanimously to have at least
6 of the “furlough days” occur on instruction days, this recommendation—based on the
express will of the faculty—was summarily rejected by the Chancellors and the Office of
the President.

				
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