domingo, janeiro 24, 2010

Anti-Privatization protests and Demands @ UW

On Thursday of last week, over 100 students, workers, local alternative high school students, teachers, and staff came out in the first action called by the University of Washington Student/Worker Coalition.

The day started with over 35 people protesting an abusive manager at her office. This action came a little over a week after Democracy Insurgent called a solidarity protest against Andre Vasquez. Workers in International Workers and Students for Justice were inspired, and took up this protest as the leaders, speaking out into the bullhorn against abusive managers. This is a huge step, considering the enormous amount of repression and abuse faced by workers who have been organizing for their rights. Following this confrontation, many of the workers marched with students, staff and community members to confront the board of regents. About 50 students and workers went to confront them on the barricaded 22 floor of the UW tower, a militarized space, while others stayed downstairs and chanted and read demands outloud, bringing support from employees at UW tower. Some of the chants included "Enough with the Ivory Tower, we fight back with Student/Worker power!" and a tip of the hat to UC schools with "No Cuts, No Fees, education must be free! See video of both actions, and other actions called by workers and students at Check out posters and flyers at

Also, below, see the full letter of demands delivered to the Board of Regents.

Continue to read the text...We are members of UW Student/Worker Coalition (UWSWC). As the University announces a second round of budget cuts, students and workers have come together to form a coalition to fight against not just the fact of these cuts, but their implementation and the privatization of the University as a whole.

Support these cuts, and the University of Washington takes another step towards privatization that leads to exclusion. Education at the UW is sliding into mediocrity and . You cannot wash your hands of this.

The UW Student/Worker Coalition demands the following:

DEMAND #1. Transparent and democratic budget allocation
UW is a public institution in a purportedly democratic society, but it increasingly resembles a for-profit corporation. Today we are in a board room on the 22nd floor of a high-rise that used to be occupied by an insurance company. We are standing in front of an unelected board comprised mostly of business elites. Tens of thousands are affected by decisions made in this room, but there are only spectator seats here for a few dozen. Regent meetings are scheduled at an hour when many UW workers who will be most affected by budget cuts, like custodians, are unable to attend, even if there was room for them. We requested that you move this meeting to a time and place where workers and students could attend to have their voices heard. But you refused. Today, you allow a handful of us to watch you rubber stamp your (quote) "consent agenda." Our presence here does NOT lend legitimacy to your public spectacle. We are here to tell you our agenda, with or without your consent. We will no longer be excluded.

Decisions must be made by those who are most affected by them. That is democracy. It cannot exist so long as the university community is denied access to and participation in decision-making processes that determine the distribution of campus resources. We are the university, and we demand power.

DEMAND #2. Cut from the top administrators: cap all salaries at $150,000 per year
It is often said that high-level administrators deserve higher salaries because they bring in money for the university through solicitation from donors. We reject this. The hardest work done at the U is done by those lowest paid; keeping the university clean and operational, teaching students how to read, write, and think, and making sure students and workers get what they need. CEOs know NOTHING about maintaining buildings, or teaching classes, and should NOT be making the most money at the U! High-level Administrative salaries are inflated by at least 20% at the same time as unionized workers are fighting for raises of 2-3%. This difference is arbitrary and irrational. ALL OPTIONS SHOULD BE ON THE TABLE. Administration IS NOT SACRED, and cuts to top-level administrative salaries MUST be considered as a valuable source of funding. We do not expect anyone making over $150,000 annually to face eviction if their incomes are constrained to a reasonable level.

DEMAND #3. No layoffs
The University of Washington has used the budget cuts as an opportunity to selectively lay off the lowest paid and most necessary workers on campus. Layoffs have included custodians, professional and classified staff, trades workers, TA's, writing center staff, librarians... the list goes on. As is typical of private restructuring of formerly public resources, those who perform the most necessary functions of the university: cleaning, maintaining buildings, teaching students how to write, read, and study, are also the lowest paid and the first to go. Layoffs have also disproportionately affected immigrant workers, people of color, and women at this University. Meanwhile, upper level administration and managers are INCREASING. The U has consistently laid off union workers to hire part time workers for less money with no benefits in their place, or to out contract jobs to private companies! This hurts ALL workers and students at UW, not just those who are laid off. In addition, facilities services has implemented a LEAN methodology. This is similar to abusive practices used on auto-making assembly lines. The UW is NOT a factory, and we know "increased efficiency" means abusing workers, an unsafe university for students, and more money for those on top! We demand an END to LAYOFFS and a REHIRING at PREVIOUS RATES of laid off workers!

Demand #4. No speed-ups for workers
Vacancies left by layoffs, firing, and restructuring have led to campus wide speed-ups for workers. For custodians, this has meant an increase from 30,000 to, in some cases, 85,000 square feet of cleaning, leaving workers injured and spaces less clean. For trades, this means a shift from preventative maintenance to keep us safe, to emergency fixes. In the last three years, there have been almost 300 reported injuries in custodial services, many due to over-exertion and other results of speed-ups! For administrative staff, this means less time to help with applications for students, mistakes in payrolls due to overwork, a decrease in access to technology, and stress on the job. For TAs this means less time with students, and a poorer education for undergrads who are paying MORE for education. Speed-up is worker abuse, and a University cannot exist on the basis of continual oppression and exploitation of its workers and students. End Speed Ups for all workers!

Demand #5 Prioritize an open, accessible public education for all.
Increase access to universities for students who are people of color, low income, working class, queer folks, immigrants, women, and folks with disabilities.
In the past, UW has been accused of being an "elitist" institution. This assertion was based in part on the HUGE salaries made by top level administrators, but also because the UW is increasingly exclusive! The high tuition/high aid model is a joke for working and poor students. The only way to make the university accessible is to LOWER tuition; not raise it and then make students of color, poor students, and working students jump through impossible hoops like circus animals to get your pittances. The reality is, working students, students of color, immigrants, women, queer folks, folks with disabilities ARE this UNIVERSITY! We should be at the forefront of the University as primary participants in our own education. We will fight together to take back the University.

Demand #6. Freeze Tuition!
We know that many budgetary decisions are made in Olympia. But we know that you make decisions about the allocation of resources on campus and about how the UW defines its priorities. We also know that the UW has been lobbying hard to have the legislature lift the tuition cap, so that you would be free to raise tuition even more than the already astronomical twenty-eight percent two-year increase. A twenty-eight percent increase! We will not tolerate this shakedown of students from either elected officials, or from you. We will fight to make UW a public university. Any increase is unacceptable. Any increase makes it even more difficult for working students and students of color to access an educational system already bent on marginalizing them within it or, worse, excluding them altogether. We demand that you freeze tuition, as a first step towards creating open access to higher education for everyone. Students will not pay more tuition so that Emmert's personal budget can reach seven figures!

Demand #7. Increase need based aid by replacing loans with grants, and stop calling loans financial aid!
What's called "financial aid" deceptively includes merit-based grants and loans, in addition to need-based grants. If we're honest, merit based scholarships are little more than bribes designed to lure students whose GPAs and SATs will increase UW's rankings over its peer institutions. Usually, such scholarships do not provide aid to those who need it to access higher education. Loans are repaid in full with exorbitant interest, often generating handsome profits for lenders. A car loan is not financial aid. A payday loan is not financial aid. Student loans are not "aid." We demand that you stop calling loans aid. It is dishonest and misleading. More importantly, we demand that you expand real financial aid. This means increasing need-based grants that allow low-income students and students of color to access higher education without saddling them with devastating, lifelong debt. If you think you can't afford this, take out a loan.

We are watching you. This community has not been seduced by the market-driven business model. Why are we here? Many of us have younger siblings, children, and friends in this community; we are also working people who need secure jobs with benefits, fair wages, and safety. We are here for not only for our future but for the future of education. We refuse to accept this agenda as inevitable. We will not submit to a death by a thousand cuts. We will not have our university sold out from under us BOARD OF REGENTS, YOU CLAIM TO EXIST TO SERVE OUR INTERESTS. WE DEMAND YOU ANSWER TO US.

Sem comentários: