There are 12,000 graduate students working as teaching assistants at the University of California who are currently members of the United Auto Workers. It might seem odd for teaching assistants to affiliate with the UAW, and stupid in light of UAW’s deplorable history of selling out its own members (See Unions, What Are They Good For?) However, as recently as 1999, graduate students were not even unionized. Most unions didn’t want to bother with a group of workers who might only be employed for a few years before graduating and moving on with their lives. When UC graduate students affiliated with the UAW, many thought it was a positive change. (Any union is better than no union, right?)
Not so, say current TAs, who accuse the UAW leadership of corruption and being out of touch with members. (See the Occupy California website). The students have formed an opposition movement called Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) and hope to push the old guard out of leadership through elections. In a recent election, the AWDU slate looked as though it might win, according to IndyBay. Then, on April 30, the incumbent-controlled Election Committee cut off the vote count, without counting the ballots from UCLA and UC Berkeley (which has the largest contingent of AWDU members), essentially stealing the election.
Today, AWDU activists took over and occupied the UAW local 2865 offices at 2070 Allston Way, Berkeley (From the UC Davis Bicycle Barricade blog).
You can read the AWDU’s Message to UC TAs
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