Contact Napolitano and State Reps to Oppose the Regressive GOP Tax Plan

As you may be aware, U.S. House Republicans have proposed a bill that would regressively overhaul U.S. tax code, which includes changes that would dramatically impact students and student-workers throughout higher education.[1]

In addition to many other concerning changes, including tax breaks for the wealthy, the new bill would repeal earlier tax code that stipulates that tuition waivers –– like the one we’ve won in our labor contract –– are excluded from taxable income. The new bill would instead treat our currently waived tuition as taxable income, which, as this analysis by one of our campus union stewards indicates, would significantly impact student workers’ already limited take-home pay. Because tuition is roughly three times as high for non-resident and international students, our union is particularly concerned about the even more drastic impacts of this bill on these student workers. We acknowledge the ways in which this proposed bill is connected to other anti-immigrant policies enacted under Trump.

As a union committed to the project of public education, we support progressive taxes to fund public goods and services like education. We have collaborated with community members to pass tax measures such as Propositions 30 and 55 to increase state funding for public education as part of our larger effort to fight for accessible, quality, and fully state-funded education. We oppose the current proposed tax bill, which would force student workers to pay taxes on tuition increases, against which we have been fighting the undemocratic UC Board of Regents for years. Our collective opposition to this bill is based on these issues.

What can I do?

It is crucial that we act together as a union to oppose this bill now. We are organizing each other to contact both UC President Janet Napolitano and our US House Representatives to urge them to publicly oppose this GOP bill. Napolitano can be reached at: (510) 987-9200 and president@ucop.edu, and you can find contact info for your State Representative here.

Below is a short, to-the-point sample script for your message:
Hello, my name is [name]. I’m a member of the UC Student-Workers Union UAW 2865, and a undergraduate/graduate student at UC [campus] OR and a constituent of [Representative] from [zip code]. I’m calling to urge your office to publicly oppose the House GOP Tax Bill H.R. 1, which would make affording higher education further out of reach for many people. Specifically, I urge you to publicly oppose the bill’s repeal of the Qualified Tuition Reduction in Section 117(d) in the tax code. Thank you for your efforts on this issue.

Please pass this message on to your coworkers –– this awful bill must be stopped. We’ll be following up with members regarding next steps in resisting this anti-education, anti-worker bill and others like it.

Yours in Solidarity,

The Joint Council
UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865

How the GOP Tax Plan Affects Graduate Students

_________________________

Notes:

  1. For more information about the way the tax bill would affect higher education, see http://www.chronicle.com/article/Republican-Tax-Proposal-Gets/241662.
  2. The numbers provided in the analysis are estimates based on average UC Berkeley teaching conditions, and they may differ slightly from individuals’ situations.
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Inviting All Unionists to Statewide Bargaining Convention, Nov. 18 at UC Santa Barbara

What: UC Student Workers’ Union Statewide Bargaining Convention

When: Saturday, November 18, 9am-4pm

Where: UC Santa Barbara campus, GSA Lounge (map)

How: RSVP by November 8 here (we’ll organize your travel, stay, and food!)

Dear Unionists,

As you likely know, our union is in the midst of preparing to bargain our next contract, which expires in June 2018. We hope to make this our strongest contract yet, and to do that, we will need your help! Many of you have already weighed in through our bargaining survey about which demands you’d like to prioritize–we encourage those who haven’t filled the survey out yet to do so soon.

We’re now reaching out to invite you to our statewide membership meeting and bargaining convention on Saturday, November 18 from 9am to 4pm at UC Santa Barbara, at the GSA Lounge. We will use this meeting to share skills and strategize our upcoming bargaining campaign as a statewide union; review bargaining survey responses and determine our collective contract demand priorities (to be ratified by members across the state in December); and begin organizing for the formal launch of our contract campaign this January at UC Merced. We encourage members from all over the state join us, meet each other, and participate in this important process!

The union is organizing food, housing, and travel logistics to make it as simple as possible for folks to join us for this key event. If you’re interested in attending, please let us know by filling out this form by 5pm on Wednesday, November 8. We’ll follow up soon to coordinate logistics details with you.

We look forward to meeting you and continuing to build our collective power together!

In Solidarity,

The Joint Council of the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865

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Response to UC Administration Emails Regarding GSR Unionization

Dear UC Student-Worker Union Member,

We recently wrote to you when Governor Brown signed SB 201 into law. This historic piece of legislation extends the definition of employee to graduate student researchers (GSRs), which enables GSRs/RAs to form a union and collectively bargain for their rights. Many of you have rightly expressed concern about recent email communications from UC administrators following SB 201’s passage, which seem intended to have a chilling effect on student-workers being able to freely exercise our right to discuss unionization and workplace issues without employer interference. Our union is in contact with our legal counsel to discuss whether UC’s emails constitute an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) under California labor law.

While we are disappointed by UC’s email communications, we are not surprised: The UC administration has fought against GSR/RA collective bargaining rights for 35 years, and the UC formally opposed SB 201 during this legislative session.

What the UC administration didn’t mention in their communications is that through collective bargaining, TAs, tutors, and readers have negotiated significant improvements to our working conditions since we formed our union in 2000. During our last round of contract negotiations in 2014, our union won a 17% wage increase over 4 years; a 50% increase in the childcare subsidy for working parents; workload protections and remedies for over-work; zero-premium health insurance; protections against harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, religion, and more; appointment security; a committee regarding instructional opportunities for non-DACA undocumented students; and the right to access gender-neutral restrooms. The UC was not willing to simply give us these rights – we were only able to win these significant gains by exercising the collective strength and power of our member-driven, member-run union.

Without a union to enforce the victories of contract negotiations, none of these rights and benefits are guaranteed, and binding protections against harassment and discrimination do not exist. That’s why GSRs/RAs at the University of WashingtonUniversity of ConnecticutNew York University, and several other colleges and universities have joined together with other student-workers to form unions and strengthen their collective voice.

This is a big year for our union. We’re fighting back against the Trump administration’s regressive policies; negotiating a new contract for TAs, readers, and tutors; building our membership to strengthen our power as a union; and continuing conversations with our colleagues who work as GSRs about the rights and protections student-workers have won through unionization. We will need your help to be stronger than ever as a union. Please email us to get involved in these efforts!

In Solidarity,

The Joint Council of the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW 2865

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SUCCESS! SB 201 signed into law!

After a dynamic, multi-year struggle led by student-workers, UC Research Assistants won the legal right to join our union and collectively determine their working conditions!   Just before midnight on Sunday, October 15, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 201 into law. This bill, authored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), extends collective bargaining rights to Research Assistants (RAs) in California public higher education systems, establishing parity with thousands of RAs and Teaching Assistants across the country who already enjoy this right.  Please  contact us if you are interested in becoming involved in our campaign to bring UC Research Assistants into our Local.

Congratulations and thank you to all of the student-workers who lobbied in Sacramento, signed petitions, filled out surveys, and organized to get this bill passed. Many thanks also to our sister locals, UAW 5810 (UC Postdocs) and UAW 4123 (CSU Student-Workers), who collaborated in this effort, as well as to our bill’s sponsor, Senator Nancy Skinner. As a graduate student, Senator Skinner was one of the activists responsible for the creation of UAW 2865 in the first place!

The passage of this bill is a turning point in a long journey. The UC has fought against RA collective bargaining rights for 35 years. Five years ago, Governor Brown vetoed similar legislation, caving to the UC administration’s fierce opposition to labor rights. This time, however, Governor Brown did the right thing, affirming that Research Assistants are employees who deserve the same protections against overwork, discrimination, harassment, etc., as every other employee.

While this phase of the campaign is over, the fight is just beginning. Now the real work of organizing our colleagues who work as Research Assistants/GSRs begins. If you would like to get involved, or you know RAs/GSRs on your campus who would be interested in our campaign, please contact us. Please also be in touch if you receive communication from the UC administration or your supervisors about this legislation.

Sincerely,

The UAW 2865 RA Committee

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UC Opposes SB 201 (Skinner)

UC Opposes SB 201 (Skinner)

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UAW 2865 Statement in Solidarity with DACA Recipients and All Undocumented Peoples

September 25, 2017

On Tuesday September 5th Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On behalf of the Trump administration, Sessions evoked white supremacist rhetoric and legal falsehoods that both further demonized the undocumented and immigrant communities and put at risk nearly 800,000 DACA recipients and their families.

UAW 2865 condemns this executive action as an attack on students, workers, and a further escalation of state violence against all 11 million undocumented peoples in the U.S. The Trump administration’s actions are indicative of continual anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies as indicated by their call for a border wall, the previous executive orders “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement,” “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and the “Muslim Ban,” and finally the continual expansion of Obama-era deportations.

As a union that represents 16,000 student-workers across the UC system, including many DACA recipients, we applaud the UC Office of the President’s (UCOP) recent statement in support of DACA students and their  federal legal suit. However we call upon UCOP and the UC administration to expand their support for all undocumented peoples at the federal, state, and campus levels. We specifically demand the following:

  • UC Call on Congress to pass legislation which restores and expands DACA, decriminalizes all undocumented peoples, and immediately suspends ICE detention and deportations.
  • UC Call on California Governor Jerry Brown to pass a strong version of SB54 (The California Values Act) making California a sanctuary state.
  • Guarantee that UC will honor all TA, Tutor, Reader, GSR, GSI, and all other work-appointments and funding packages to DACA and non-DACA recipients regardless of work permit renewal status.
  • UC Expand and immediately implement across all campuses, pedagogical and funding opportunities as proposed by UAW 2865’s Instructional Opportunities Committee.
  • Each UC campus provide matching dollars for the UCOP funded scholarships for all undocumented students and increase the staff of each campus’ undocumented student services office by also including graduate student support.
  • UC create a fund to cover the costs of all renewal applications of all DACA recipients affiliated with UC.
  • Ensure that the UCOP advisory committee on undocumented students is led by undocumented UC students and workers themselves.
  • Implement any and all demands of the UC Undocumented Student Coalition.
  • Immediately terminate all UC contracts and formal cooperation with ICE, DHS, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
  • UC demilitarizing the police and ensure campus police does not collaborate with ICE to release any personal information.
  • UC Allocate physical spaces on campus with professional staff based on undocumented student recommendations (on-campus attorney, mental health professionals, academic and financial counselors).
  • UC Develop employment and paid internship opportunities for professional development regardless of immigration status and work authorization (re: UC Davis’ Mentorship).

As both students and front-line instructors across UC’s nine teaching campuses, UAW 2865 wants all undocumented members of the UC community and beyond to know that we stand in solidarity with you as fellow workers, instructors, colleagues, and family. We are steadfastly ready to support and collaborate with on the ground work led by undocumented students and communities in the struggle for immigrant and worker rights and justice.

In Solidarity,

Joint Council
UAW Local 2865

Downloadable PDF: DACA Support Letter 2865

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