California strike attempts on 4 March & subsequent struggles

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Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
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Mar 4 2010 19:54

Update:

8:25 a.m. Carpenters at Cañada College in Redwood City (a suburb south of San Francisco) have set up picket lines at the campuses entrances against outsourcing that has allowed scabs to work on construction sites at the school. We're not entirely sure, but it seems clear that they have chosen to do this today to coincide with the student walk-out at Cañada.

11:26 a.m.

300 students are marching toward the picket lines, attempting to bolster them.

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Mar 4 2010 19:16

Update:

UC Santa Cruz

5:00am: Students out blocking streets at the intersection of High & Western, Hagar and Coolidge, and the western entrance of campus effective shutting it down. Only people on foot can enter campus.

6:30am - High and Western

7:00am: Some people have been hit by cars breaking the picket line, breaking someones leg and hitting another 3 or so people.

8:00am: Campus administrators activated the CruzAlert messaging system with the following message “Please avoid both campus entrances due to safety concerns. Check web or 459-INFO at noon for update.” (source)

9:40am: Currently a rally is being held at the main entrance (i.e. the east entrance) with 250 participants. For a while 2 helicopters were flying above. The students blocking the intersection of High and Western have left after most of the workers were blocked from entering campus (it would appear some dining hall workers were able to get on campus, but many others were unable to get on campus). Many of the workers are now here supporting the students.

Earlier this morning, multiple students were injured by two separate incidents where cars rushed the strike line (one at the intersection of Hagar and Coolidge, and the second at the intersection of High and Western). The car at Hagar and Coolidge was tailgating a police car being let through, students then approached the vehicle to stand in front of it and tell them about the strike. The car hit the gas and drove into the mass, injuring a student’s leg, fortunately not broken. In the incident at High and Western, a tan volvo began accelerating into the crowd blocking the street, despite the fact that cars driving down High (away from campus) were being slowly let through. The volvo hit around 5 students, one student flipped over the hood of the car and over the top, breaking the rear window as the student fell off the back. As the volvo sped away, students kicked the car, denting it. Several cars and motorcycles have tried to slowly push through the crowd through out the day, but all failed. Rumors of other car incidents exist, but the others have yet to be confirmed.

Also, earlier this morning a banner was hung over highway 1, stating “March 4 Defend Education!”

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Mar 4 2010 19:24

Update:

UC Berkeley

8:30 a.m. Photo of Sather Gate, where this picket line currently has 100 strikers:

11:03 a.m.

The fire alarm was activated in Wheeler Hall and people are exiting the building.

11:09 a.m.

A midterm for L&S 140b was interrupted in Valley Life Sciences Building. Protesters are now heading towards Oxford Street.

Flying pickets are making their way through the campus and attempting to empty classrooms.

Hieronymous's picture
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Mar 4 2010 19:44

Update

11:39

Nationwide actions so far:

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OliverTwister
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Mar 5 2010 04:27

Lots of spontaneous actions at Davis today, including a march to shut down the primary highway leading to the state capital, confronting police lines and pellet guns. I'll write some more on it when I have time.

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Mar 5 2010 05:38
Hieronymous wrote:
Update

11:39

Nationwide actions so far:

Whatever you tried to post didn't work.

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Juan Conatz
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Mar 5 2010 05:44

Corporate media (CNN) coverage: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/03/04/us.day.of.action/index.html?hpt=C1

UC Davis student being hit with stungun: http://twitpic.com/16nof9

Map of protests and actions: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=116169028344571157625.000480ebacd73ce28c21f&ll=34.597042,-87.099609&spn=50.281139,88.59375&z=4

I can't even really keep up with everything hitting the net right now

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OliverTwister
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Mar 5 2010 18:22

I'm interested in setting up a blog for this. What do you think Steven?

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Steven.
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Mar 6 2010 14:57
OliverTwister wrote:
I'm interested in setting up a blog for this. What do you think Steven?

sorry about the late reply, I'm away at the moment.

but yeah, what you're doing is probably the best way, if you continue to tag anything as "occupied California". Anything which is not formatted as a news piece, like communiques or leaflets can be a library entry. This would be more flexible than a "blog" and would mean that anyone was able to contribute to it. For stuff you are writing yourself, you can tag yourself (or a writing pseudonym) as the author in the author's field.

Thanks for all those updates of the day everyone. The CNN piece looked quite good as well.

If it later turns out that the "occupied California" tag is inappropriate due to increasing amounts of content from other areas of the country, we can rename the tag to something else at a later date, and it will instantly be renamed on all of the articles.

scottydont
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Mar 9 2010 05:47

As an update for those in far off places where people talking about it isn't ruining your social life already:

There is a debate playing out post-March 4th in both CA and NY about tactics and organization, which, rather unsurprisingly for the US, is largely being played out as a debate about race. Basically, when it comes down to it the leftist organizations/non-profiteers are accusing those taking direct action or pushing for disruptive strikes of being "outside infiltrators" (in New York) and "white anarchists with no roots in Oakland" (in California). The "critique" being circulated in California relates mostly to the blockade of the I-880/980 Interstate highway and reduces what was a largely multiracial action to one perpetrated solely by white anarchists. It even takes things to the ridiculous and condescending point of claiming that the white people/anarchists tricked the unsuspecting people of color into confrontational direct action. This has been, for obvious reasons, met with some anger, particularly by the black and brown folks arrested on the highway.

California drama with the non-profit world starts here (longer article is linked from the short summary):
http://www.racewire.org/archives/2010/03/anarchists_draw_heat_after_ca_student_walk-outs.html

2 replies here:
http://occupyca.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/raider-nation-collective-statement-on-the-m4-highway-takeover/
(the second long reply is posted in the comments)

New York drama with the ISO etc is summarized here:
http://takethecity.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/a-response-to-the-lies-of-march-4th/

...or to save you reading the whole painful debate here is Occupy CA's summary:

Quote:
In each case, direct-action contingents faced off, not only against the rich, not only against the police, but also against the established “leaders” of unions, parties and other organizations. Here and now–in CA and across the country–we are beginning to scare established “activists”, who are worried about losing their “following”, worried about the effects that a period of “uprising” and “turmoil” will have on them and their supposed “constituencies”–and especially on the poor (as if we ever won anything by playing nice and following the rules). If history is any indication, we should take these denunciations as an sign that we are having some effect, that we are becoming “dangerous” to those who benefit from the present order–including those on the left...We are hearing some familiar insults, used to denounce those who favored disruption (the “privileged outside agitators”) over various forms of inactivity (desired, of course, by all the “local, peaceful activists”). We have heard all this before: the attempt to mask real fractures within communities by referring to all those who decide to act as dangerous outsiders. We have heard all this before: the attempt to silence the poor and less privileged by erasing them from actions.
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Juan Conatz
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Mar 9 2010 07:45

I was right about to come in here and post this. We must go to the same websites and see the same FB discussions...lol

scottydont
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Mar 9 2010 08:37

haha...
what is your take on the whole thing?

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Mar 10 2010 05:40
scottydont wrote:
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In each case, direct-action contingents faced off, not only against the rich, not only against the police, but also against the established “leaders” of unions, parties and other organizations. Here and now–in CA and across the country–we are beginning to scare established “activists”, who are worried about losing their “following”, worried about the effects that a period of “uprising” and “turmoil” will have on them and their supposed “constituencies”–and especially on the poor (as if we ever won anything by playing nice and following the rules). If history is any indication, we should take these denunciations as an sign that we are having some effect, that we are becoming “dangerous” to those who benefit from the present order–including those on the left...We are hearing some familiar insults, used to denounce those who favored disruption (the “privileged outside agitators”) over various forms of inactivity (desired, of course, by all the “local, peaceful activists”). We have heard all this before: the attempt to mask real fractures within communities by referring to all those who decide to act as dangerous outsiders. We have heard all this before: the attempt to silence the poor and less privileged by erasing them from actions.

Funny, because I'm on about half a dozen listservs and on a few of them, people are taking a different tact. Instead of saying that the freeway occupiers were too radical, they're saying that they weren't radical enough. Which hopefully will begin a fruitful debate rather than all the lame race-baiting and more-militant-than-thou posturing that's gone on so far.

I have to agree and say while the freeway action was interesting and escalated things in a slightly positive way, it could've been a lot more effective had a target more carefully been selected. During the First Gulf War in 1991 and then a year later during the Rodney King Uprising, militants actually took the Bay Bridge each time from a different direction before mass arrests closed the bridge and tied up all trans-Bay traffic between San Francisco and the East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, etc.) for half a day, including the entire evening rush hour -- stranding tens of thousands of commuters. I was on the latter and it was fucking amazing. We were chased onto opposite sides of the same freeway a little further north of March 4th's actions and at times we were walking amidst traffic in the opposite direction where 90% of the gridlocked drivers were supportive (perhaps because the crowd, mixed-race and mostly high schoolers and college kids, wasn't burning down the city like they were at that very moment in Los Angeles) and I had many surreal moments like soccer moms reaching out of their station wagons to high-five me or Sikh big-rig truck drivers reaching out of their cabs to slap my hand. Both times the marches on the bridge were only ended when cops trapped us by containing us from both directions.

And I don't mean to sound like a know-it-all old fart, but back then we were much more mobile and flexible, yet able to cover each others' backs. I think the Black Bloc has had an overall negative affect on tactics. This idea of bunching up for self defense might work with thousands in someplace like Berlin where the territory is easier to contest, but in U.S. with cops in squad cars and on motorcycles, it makes the bloc a slow-moving, easy to contain target. When the Second Gulf started in 2003, the first massive protest in San Francisco was on March 20th and the Black Bloc assembled in the afternoon and was immediately immobilized with the same pincer move the cops have perfected since the Seattle WTO protests in 1999. Hundreds got arrested. All these kinds of tactics and actions need to be reevaluated.

But since I'm talking about the Rodney King Uprising, an instructive story comes to mind. On the second day, April 30, 1991, I joined a crowd of over 8,000 angry young people on the UC Berkeley campus. Berkeley High had walked out and at least a quarter of the crowd was high school kids. It was pretty amazing and impressive that this self-organized mob was able to move freely through the city and find appropriate targets. The first one, the old Berkeley Police station of course. The cops inside were fully armed, in full riot gear, and looked like they were shitting in their pants with fear. Some rocks were thrown, breaking out the few windows on the exterior of the building. The traditional student leftist-activist types were the first to discourage this, which was a little premature to do since we had no idea how the cops would respond. So the mob moved and headed 1 block back toward the UC campus where we'd started. We turned a corner and those of us at the front were on the steps of Berkeley City Hall and all we could see through the glass doors in the lobby were 3 or 4 cops. As this 8,000-strong angry mass went straight at them, the cops ran in fear out the doors at the opposite side of lobby and out of the building.

The building was ours. I had been in it before and roughly knew the layout. The city council had their offices on the top floor (4th or 5th). So about a dozen of us, half of whom were Black high school kids and the other half early 20something anarcho-punks, rushed the stairwells and got to the top floor. We could hear scrambling as the receptionist closed the counter window and locked all doors to the inner chambers of the office, as the politicians and staff evacuated down fire escapes. But one of us noticed that the walls were merely high partitions with a gap under the ceiling and we quickly pushed one of us over the top. He unlocked the door from the inside and we controlled the offices of the city manager (the real administrator in a small city like Berkeley), the mayor and the whole city council. I had these fantasies of rifling through the mayor's desk drawers and finding embarrassing things, like the occupiers of Columbia University in New York in 1968. I fancied drinking the city manager's expensive Cognac and looking through his files. We were all elated and I ranted incessantly about sending out communiques like Situationist International did from the occupied Sorbonne University in 1968. We would declare Berkeley an autonomous Commune and abolish the police, money and wage labor. We would call for a general assembly, to found the commune, that evening at the Berkeley Community Theater across the street (also made famous as the site of the Hendrix documentary Jimi Plays Berkeley about his 1970 concert). Maybe I was alone with these ideas, but in that moment everything seemed possible. History seemed tangible and malleable; I was trying to make my dreams reality.

We expected that at least some others in the massive crowd knew about the 1964 Free Speech Movement occupation of Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley and how over 800 people got arrested there (the largest mass arrest in California history up to that point), sparking a week-long student strike. In that occupation, people filled all the hallways and offices throughout the night. So we waiting and waited and waited for our comrades to join us. No one came up the stairs. It was weird, we had this amazing opportunity and no one was filling up and occupying the building. So we went up on the roof to see what was happening. The building is "U" shaped and outside, in the courtyard in the middle, there was some kind of "speak-out" going on where people appeared to be giving speeches on a bullhorn. On the roof, we all thought "What the fuck! We've got total control of City Hall and what are they thinking making speeches?!" We yelled for others to come up, but either no one could hear us or they were ignoring us. I couldn't believe it. A fantasy I'd dreamed about ever since I'd become a radical and read about the 1871 Commune and the burning of the Hôtel de Ville, and it was dying before my eyes. I was livid, thinking "here's our chance to make history."

But it was all for naught. After having been in the building for about 20 minutes, it looked like the crowd was down by a couple thousand and that it was getting ready to move. We ran down the stairs, only to open the door in the building's lobby to people's backs as several of them had linked arms to prevent anyone having access to the stairwell. I recognized some of the faces, the moderates in the Black Students Union. And those with the bullhorns were the same campus activist types from the different ethnic associations and student government. The crowd did seem to be ignoring their directions and marched the aforementioned 7.5 miles to the Bay Bridge where nearly 500 of us got arrested.

The lesson is the same today: don't let the bullhorns speak for you. Don't let a vanguard take control. Always be wary of (seemingly) well-meaning liberals. Don't get race-baited. Don't fall into the guilt trip of liberals, preaching their middle-class morality of non-violence. Fuck the Trots, but especially the ISO (former sister group of the British SWP). Beware of accusations that you're an "outsider, saboteur, hijacker, ultra-left, adventurer, or infantile," all of which are Trotskyite jargon. Never tolerate snitchjacketing. But be strategically smart and tactically informed and like Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, "know your enemy." He also said, "the main goal of war is to win." We need to start thinking more in these terms.

Lastly, one of the best targets of a demo with some of the most repressive results was the April 7, 2003 anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland -- and less than a mile from the freeway arrests on March 4th. It is the 4th busiest cargo container port in North America and around 1,000 people attempted to shut it down with pickets, hoping that longshore and maritime workers would honor them. But we never had the chance because the Oakland pigs (and here the Panthers were dead-on accurate in calling them that) came out shooting. Literally. Without the slightest provocation, they bombarded us with wooden and rubber bullets, and pepper spray and concussion grenades. Added to that was the “BUMP” (for “Basic Use of Motorcycle Push”) tactic where the pigs rode their Harley-Davidson motorcycles into the crowd. The brutality showed that we chose a target that could effectively cause damage to our enemy, although we didn't have the forces nor the working class solidarity from workers there, to truly shut it down (a successful model would be the way the short-haul truck drivers, the troqueros, were able to shut down at least 90% of the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, the busiest cargo port in the western hemisphere, on May Day 2006). But the tactical decision to attempt it at the port was brilliant. We need more tactical insight like that in choosing targets, but have to realistically assess what we're capable of given our numbers.

With the deepening of the crisis in California, we'll have plenty more opportunities to test our strategies and tactics in action.

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Schwarz
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Mar 9 2010 09:04

hunter is particularly known for its rabid leninist psychos, but folks are trying to outflank them as we speak. the overblown accusations of the trots and maoists (including alleged rape threats and accusations of collaboration with the fbi!) are soon going to blow up in their faces.

while the total shit-storm over the hunter college action may make it seem pretty depressing over here, there was much more success at reaching out to students and workers at other schools within the cuny system. there are some great people working in the suny system as well. check soon for updates on takethecity and reoccupied.

anger is rising in nyc not only about education, but also about the public transit cuts. in case people missed it, a bunch of comrades were arrested at the mta brooklyn public hearing charade. these transit issues are affecting people deeply here and is just the beginning of the austerity measures soon to be imposed on new yorkers. if the mta actually manages to get free metrocards taken away from public school children shit could pop off pretty quick.

gotta say, the solidarity from ca people was really important out here. and yes we are dealing with similar issues, where real issues of race and identity are being manipulated to serve the interests of slimy 'student activists'. big ups to all of you out there and keep on fighting - solidarity forever!

on the topic of psychos, several of us are working on a polemic against leninist/trot/maoist student groups. besides infoshop, can anyone recommend some good background texts about the iso, rcp, sparts etc?

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Mar 9 2010 09:18
s keil wrote:
on the topic of psychos, several of us are working on a polemic against leninist/trot/maoist student groups. besides infoshop, can anyone recommend some good background texts about the iso, rcp, sparts etc?

Comrade Motopu could be extremely helpful here, especially his "ISOnuts: One Stop Activism and the Gentrification of the Left." Available here:

http://www.comrademotopu.com/attemptfixisonuts.htm

scottydont
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Mar 9 2010 09:38

You should get around to writing your memoirs Hieronymous! (and I am not saying that sarcastically)

I agree as to the freeway action. I don't quite think that it was not "radical" enough, but that perhaps the energy could have been used tactically elsewhere, which seems to be the response of most of those actually involved in it as well. That said, it did cause quite the disruption and props to of all those who went for it. As for the black block tactic, I think that many people agree with you. People were actively discouraged from blocking up as a tactical decision. Really if you look at the photos of the highway there are maybe 10 people actually blocked up.

Hopefully the movement can build from March 4th. If the college students in the Bay could manage to make connections with the public employees laid off this week, the Muni drivers, and further the connections to high school students and teachers (on that note: unfortunately OEA has moved back their one day strike from March 24th to late April) there might actually be something developing, but there is a long long way between here and there.

We will see what happens at the Berkeley and Oakland assemblies.

Cheers, and thanks again for the history lesson.

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jesuithitsquad
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Mar 9 2010 20:28

I've said this before in a couple of other threads, but it seems on topic here. Most of the rank and file of the ISO I've encountered actually think they are doing 'socialism from below' and are decent militants, and as such don't see much of a gap between libertarian communist ideas and theirs. Of course, the leadership is a completely different story.

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Mar 10 2010 06:52

This dispels more of the media-fueled myths (from a website of a tolerable Trot group, Labors Militant Voice, who support rank-and-file militancy and wildcat strikes; here's the link: http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2010/03/march-4th-blocking-of-freeway-had.html):

Quote:
At last week's meeting of the East Bay March 4th Strike Committee a young working class community college student told of his arrest by the cops on the 880 freeway in Oakland after our very successful rally there. He made it clear that the folks that blocked the freeway were not all "white anarchists" from Berkeley as the capitalist press tries to make out. There were around 150 on the breakaway march he explained and there is a lot of anger among the youth and minority youth especially. There were many people of color on the march and on the freeway, including himself.

He said that the motorists, far from being angry were very supportive and honked their car horns in support. The anger that exists in US society is almost at boiling point. That the public can be supportive in the case of young people using direct action to prevent business as usual shows what would have been possible had the heads of organized Labor joined the students in mobilizing their members for a strike on March 4th. The state of California, and indeed the nation could have come to a standstill that day. Instead, the Union hierarchy continue to hold back the movement but the dam is close to bursting.

Below is a letter that the president of the teachers Union in Oakland California received from someone who was in the traffic that day that confirms the account told to members of the East Bay Strike Committee last Saturday:

Quote:
Betty Olson-Jones
President, Oakland Education Association

"I was watching the local news last night and saw an oddly crafted story on yesterday’s March 4th freeway protest against public education cuts. Having been one of the motorists at the front of the 880 northbound freeway jam, and a teacher, I had a personal interest. The story’s point was that the freeway protesters were probably “professional protesters” who hijack peaceful protests. Evidence of this was archive protest footage of a bearded non-UC Berkeley student who had appeared at two separate campus protests for different causes (although he was not among these freeway protesters). I mused, “Who pays these professional protesters? Can I get on the payroll to supplement my teacher‘s salary?” The story went on to paraphrase the freeway protesters themselves saying they weren’t sure who the other protesters were. The point of the story was obviously to discredit the freeway protesters as “professional protesters” however it showed not even a scrap of footage or interviews with those involved that supported this.

Here’s what I observed when I was parked on the freeway for 40 minutes on March 4th at 5:00 in the afternoon. First, the other motorists did not appear upset about the delay. After all, we have a front row drive-in view of an empty freeway and riot police a few hundred yard ahead engaged in some mysterious activity. And how refreshing to be parked on the freeway, walking around socializing with the people who only moments ago I was trying to maneuver around at 60 mpg!

After 40 minutes of speculating, listening to the radio, calling friends and craning our necks a long parade of handcuffed protesters was escorted down the Jackson street offramp. Many drivers watched silently from the guardrail. Others, after a several moments, began cheering. Then to my surprise others began cheering. A little girl yelled who was with her mom and sister yelled “Education!” Some protesters waved and cheered back to us. Then I heard someone yell my name. Looking more closely I noticed one of my teacher colleagues was one of the protesters. I ecstatically waved back. I would like to add that she is one of the most committed, professional hard-working teachers at our public elementary school.

So who is the news media trying to appease with this non-story? On a more personal note I ask myself, why wasn’t I one of the first people to cheer for the protesters? Why did I wait for others to cheer before I made my views public? I’m a public teacher at a low income school. And I know that civil disobedience has pushed social change in this country since its beginning. So why didn’t I feel comfortable giving a shout to the protesters right away? For me March 4th turned out to be a learning day on the freeway."

By the way, the Oakland Education Association just changed the date of the strike of teachers from March 24 to April 22. If they can continue the momentum of March 4th, they'll draw on the solidarity of other public sector workers and students and might win like they did in the 1996 strike.

Jason Cortez
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Mar 10 2010 10:14
Quote:
By the way, the Oakland Education Association just changed the date of the strike of teachers from March 24 to April 22. If they can continue the momentum of March 4th, they'll draw on the solidarity of other public sector workers and students and might win like they did in the 1996 strike.

But surely this is less likely if the strike has been delayed by a month?

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Mar 10 2010 12:59
scottydont wrote:
haha...
what is your take on the whole thing?

Well, I'm not on either coast, so I'm not sure how much the peculiarities of the socialists and anarchists there or the background play into everything.

However, based on my own experience organizing with and around both insurrectionary anarchists and Trotskyists of the ISO variety, I think there's elements of truth in both forms of accusations flying (although I'm more on the IAs side).

There is a definite element of go-at-it-alone substituionalism among insurrectionary anarchists. Despite differing accounts, there's been a number of incidents in which they basically led or took advantage of an unsuspecting crowd to push tactics as far as they could go. I think there is a definite dismissal of valid concerns based on race and gender in favor of "the totality" or whatever new rhetoric that justifies speaking in abstract terms instead of addressing real inequalities both within American society and amongst the anarchist milieu.

To many IAs, any organized group that goes into a broader group to influence it is practicing some form of evil entryism. Obviously, if you're familiar with what anarchists have done for the last 150 years, you'll see that this is an entirely inadequate definition of entryism and one based more on anti-formal organization tendencies than anything else.

However, the ISO has and does practice entryism, defined as going into a broader group to seize positions of decision making power and then making the organization toe the ISO's line as much as possible. I personally saw this happen with the Campus Antiwar Network (although the ISO has apparently abandoned CAN now). They also are incredibly suspicious of ideas and tactics that outflank them on the left and they are petrified of alienating the student liberal who is their demographic base and prime recruiting focus.

What's ironic is as much as these types are using identity politics as a maneuver against the anarchists, they are vehemently dismissive of them if they challenge their stranglehold on a group. This opportunism can be seen as endemic of their organization, indeed their very ideology, as a whole.

So, yeah, I don't know...lol

scottydont
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Apr 13 2010 05:19

deleted!

scottydont
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Apr 13 2010 05:18

Hi all, this was posted by the folks from Advance the Struggle a few days ago...wondering what people thought of it if anyone has read it.

http://advancethestruggle.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/crisis-and-consciousness-reflections-and-lessons-from-march-4th/

also, Lazoi commented in another thread:

Quote:
though i am definitely still very interested in this sorta insurrectionary council-communist turn much of the anarchist student youth movement types have been taking on, basically because i do believe that councils/mass assemblies can be a pretty effective way to tactically organize at times. my question to these folks though is how do you make these forms of resistance spread without a bare minimum of formal organization or broad organizing in communities?

this seems to me to be a similar question, though from a different angle, to the one the piece is grappling with.

Comments?

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klas batalo
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Apr 16 2010 18:15

hey thanks scotty i am gonna check out that full piece. i read some of your quotes from it on the other thread that is discussing it.

scottydont
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Apr 21 2010 06:48

A brief and incomplete update of things that have happened since March 4th in the east bay, it folks are still interested:
-a lot of energy at Berkeley seems to be goign into fighting the various student conduct and legal repercussions of the fall. It seems like the administration is doing its best to keep peoples energies wrapped up in dealing with these things instead of being able to move foreword. I can't comment on other campuses very accurately but this seems to be true at sf state and santa cruz as well from what I have hear through the grapevine?
-A good amount of organizing in the Peralta system community colleges (basically all the community colleges in the east bay) has been going into saving childcare programs from being cut. There have been some connections made between those active in "Student Unity and Power", (the further left formal organization at Laney CC) and the mothers who use childcare center, as well as some childcare workers. The last two board meetings have been disrupted to some extent, and the most recent meeting was completely shut down after the public comment period. Subsequently, the board's meeting space was occupied and used to have a brief planning assembly for the next steps regarding the struggle for childcare. Also, for all the sectarian scorekeepers out there "Speak Out" (a very conservative trot group) pulled its cadre and hangers on from the meeting as soon as people started to disrupt the proceedings and the ISO cadre (according to some) were pushing hard for more conservative action and pretty openly race baiting during the planning process for the disruption.
-The Oakland Teachers strike is moving ahead for April 29th, and there have been calls for community members to join pickets at their local school prior to the midday rally, which is encouraging on some level. Also, there is a call out for disruption of the school board meeting tomorrow night where the contract and "fact finding report" are being discussed. I am totally unsure of how to judge the potentials involved in the teachers strike, but perhaps others on this board would be better positioned to do so. On an anecdotal level my friend who is a sub says that anti-scab sentiment among other subs is "unusually high" right now. Also, their have been some rumors floating around about high school students in East Oakland (which is heavily Latino) attempting to stage some kind of action on the Friday between the teachers strike and the immigrants rights marches on Mayday thus linking the two, but those could be total rumors...

If anybody has updates from their part of the state (or other states!) that would be great to hear!

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Hieronymous
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Apr 21 2010 07:40

Yeah, I heard first-hand reports about Speak Out (but probably under either of their front groups: Revolutionary Workers Group or Against the Cuts) arguing against direct action. They're fucked and their mantra is "the workers aren't ready [for anything beyond lame, passive symbolic actions]." I even heard that Speak Out might be negotiating a "sweetheart" deal with the administration bureaucrats behind the backs of the mom's affected by the childcare's closing. Again, they're being true to their Lambertist Trot "infiltrationist' tradition.

As for the OEA teachers' one-day strike, it's being done by the union because of rank-and-file initiative. A teacher on the East Bay March 4th Committee told me that most rank-and-filers want to push for an indefinite strike like the one they won in 1996, but more liberal elements in the union have a gradualist approach and are preventing that from happening at first. But if they wait, many workers might be laid off before they can launch a militant strike with no end date. This definitely could get interesting.

And scabs are offered $300 a day, almost triple of what regular subs get paid. The teachers and subs I know call them scabstitutes.

Here are my notes from the account of the 1996 Oakland Teachers' Strike (http://www.iww.org/en/node/1955):

Quote:
During the 1996 strike, schools were shut down by a factor of 80-90% -- with only about 15% of teachers scabbing -- because parents supported the teachers with groups like the "Parents for Classrooms First," mimicking the slogan of the teachers' struggle and strike. But earlier the students had risen up valiantly, creating the "Student Power Union" with the goal of pushing the teachers to be more militant and make the strike "stronger and more fierce." The organized students helped rebuild mass militance on the picket lines and were clearly more radical in tactics and demands than the teachers' union.

The strike was successful for the wages of the regular teachers, but its great flaw was a contract that allowed other support staff, like counselors whose already heavy workload with the ratio of one counselor to 300 students was raised to 500 students. Also betrayed were early childhood education workers and school psychologists, many of whom were laid off. And the district completely hedged on reducing classroom size, one of the main demands of students, teachers and parents.

Here's what the current Oakland high school teacher above wrote about the situation:

Quote:
A 4% wage cut was actually done in 2003 -- August of 2003, just when Randy Ward began his 3-year reign as State Administrator of Oakland Unified School District. It was pushed through by then-Oakland Education Association President Sheila Quintana, who staged a contract approval vote by mail ballot with almost no notice when many teachers were away on summer vacations and not having emails forwarded.

Since the state takeover in 2003, OUSD has been a laboratory for privatization -- and, in particular, the privatization project of Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad. All three OUSD state administrators (Randy Ward and his successors, Kimberley Statham and Vincent Matthews) are graduates of Broad's Urban Superintendents' Academy (as is Robert Bobb, the former Oakland city manager who is now the Broad-bankrolled czar of schools in Detroit, where he is shutting down dozens of schools and trying to break the teachers; union.

I teach at Castlemont H.S., and helped make that Oakland Tribune story on the Castlemont library happen (January 16th, 2006). The Castlemont library was closed (and the librarian excessed) in June of 2004, when Castlemont was broken into three small high schools (plus a charter school). Worse, nearly every middle school library was closed. The counselor workload increased to 500 students in 1996. It's now 700.

Oakland teachers are now the lowest-paid teachers in Alameda County -- paid 20% less than the county average. Since 2002, the number of charter school students has more than quadrupled (growing from 2,000 to over 8,000), and Oakland has the highest percentage of students in charter schools of any urban school district in the state. The state put the school district in receivership in 2003 ostensibly because it had a $37 million budget deficit. The state tripled that deficit (it's now $110 million) while shutting down schools, closing libraries, eliminating electives, laying off support staff, etc. Meanwhile, the state gave them an additional 20-plus percent in cost of living adjustment money; Oakland teachers received a cumulative total of less than 2% total pay increase in that same time period. Where did the money go? To consultants; to outsourcing; to redundant and needless administrators.

OEA is asking for a 15% pay increase over three years (5% each year), to help retain and recruit good teachers (OUSD's teacher turnover is among the highest in the country). Fifteen percent won't even get us up to the county average, and it won't make up for the COLA money we weren't given in the past decade. But the district is offering less -- in fact, it's offering nothing (0%).

OEA is asking to maintain class size at its historic average levels. OUSD wants to increase class size by anywhere from 4 to 12 students (depending on grade level). Class size is key -- it's the main protection against layoffs (larger class size means fewer teachers and more layoffs).

The district says it can't afford to meet our demands. In fact, OUSD receives more money per student than most comparable school districts. But they spend more than $80 million per year on consultants and outsourcing. The percentage of budget spent on administrators is one of the highest in the state. Their priorities are so out of whack that the Alameda County Office of Education sent the district a letter warning that their adopted budget allocates $35 million less than is mandated by the state education code (state ed code says that 55% of a unified school district's educational expenses must be spent on compensation for classroom instruction -- that is, on salary and benefits for classroom teachers and instructional aides. But OUSD has budgeted only 45% -- $35 million short.)

We need to build massive support for public education in the working class and oppressed community. If Oakland teachers can win on class size and on salary, it will send a strong message of encouragement around the state and the country, where tens of thousands of teachers are being laid off and salaries are being cut back. Indeed, the California Teachers' Association (CTA), OEA's parent union, has urged many of its locals to aggressively seek more layoffs (!) as a way of maintaining their salaries and benefits amid the state's budget cuts. That strategy -- which CTA imposed in RIchmond / West Contra Costa USD this past fall -- is a surefire recipe for demoralization and defeat. The more support we of the March 4 movement can build for the Oakland teachers' contract fight, the more chance the OEA ranks will stand and fight and insist their leaders do the same. If that happens, we can strike a major blow for quality public education.

I personally don't share his enthusiasm for public education under capitalism, but if an indefinite strike does develop and is won without the limitations of the 1996 strike, it would be a great gain for class struggle locally.

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Steven.
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Apr 21 2010 17:53

very informative updates you two, thanks

syndicalist
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Apr 21 2010 18:38

Undercover Police Infiltrate Registered Student Organization at University of Washington

Seattle, WA-- On Thursday April 8, students, workers, and instructors welcomed an unfamiliar face to a publicly advertised meeting for a campus-wide strike May 3rd. A woman who identified herself simply as “Tani" described herself as an "alum" of UW who was passionate about the cuts. She also said that her father worked with Waste Management and she was in the meeting to find out what the May 3rd strike committee was involved in with regards to the Teamsters' recent call for a strike. "Tani" actively participated in the planning meeting for a large-scale action demanding immigrant and worker justice, student access to UW, and smaller class sizes and writing center to improve education. The following week, however, student activists accidently bumped into “Tani” again—this time, though, as Officer Tanesha van Leuven of the UWPD. We have reason to believe that Tani was sent by the University of Washington to spy on the meeting.

The University of Washington has made police infiltration and intimidation its primary tactic for retaliating against workers and activists fighting privatization at UW. In the Fall and Winter of 2009, immigrant workers faced continuous harassment from the UWPD for talking with other workers about their working conditions, clearly violating labor law. That September, two women of color journalists and activists—a childcare worker and a pre-nursing student—were arrested after interviewing immigrant women workers during their break time about the challenges they face in the workplace. With layoffs and arbitrary shift changes being enforced by custodial services, many workers have experienced inhumane amounts of extra work and speed up. UWPD officers also often harass students who choose to organize within on-campus registered student organizations while they are handing out flyers, or even just walking on campus going to class. For example, last Tuesday, while passing out flyers and talking with students, two women graduate students were approached by a bike officer of the UWPD who told them “I wish I could arrest people for no reason.” These attacks, the violence perpetrated against activists in Seattle, Portland, and Olympia, the increase in police killing of unarmed people of color, and now the covert infiltration of a student group by UWPD raise serious and alarming questions about possible violence and surveillance against students and workers at the hands of the University and its police force.

Since June of 2009, workers, students, and community members have been fighting against lay-offs of immigrant workers, increases in tuition that exclude working students and students of color, cuts to quality education, and an ongoing process of privatization that favors revenue for some at the top of the university, while taking funds away from students and workers. While the university’s state budget continues to be cut, the reality is this cut is less than 3% of the total UW budget. In fact, most of the budget shortfall—$469 million—came from the university's risky investments, NOT from the cuts from the state. Since 2004, the UW Treasury has been investing in hedge funds, and hiking tuition, from $4968 in 2003 to $8800 in 2010, to back up these investments should they default. Rather than cutting from the top, and changing its spending focuses, the university continues to perpetuate the myth that tuition hikes go toward ameliorating the state cuts.

On March 4th, while over 700 students and workers were protesting budget cuts on and off campus, and many more were protesting across the country, the UW met with the UAW 4121, Academic Student Employees (ASE’s), bargaining team to start contract negotiations. At this meeting, the UW told UAW negotiators that because they opposed a tuition increase bill in the legislature in February, the University would retaliate against all ASE’s by taking away lay-off protections, increasing healthcare premiums, and firing all tutors and writing center instructors, among other take-aways. Many UAW members are pushing their elected representatives to call a strike, which was already authorized by membership, to begin the first day after contract negotiations if the University continues to bargain in bad faith. The May 3rd student strike was planned to correspond with this day, and to support custodians and other state workers facing cuts.

Through its actions, the University PD has shown itself to be unaccountable to students and the UW community. It does, however, do the work of controlling student movements on behalf of the UW administration. The UWPD and the UW administration seek to curtail organizing by workers and students, but they will not succeed.

UW Student Worker Coalition # uwstudentworkercoalitionATgmail.com

scottydont
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Apr 25 2010 00:03

Updates:
Oakland teachers disrupted a school board meeting after the school board voted unanimously to move forward with a contract that has not been signed by the union. I had to get to work so I was only able to attend to the rally beforehand and was not at the school board meeting itself, but the mood seemed energetic and the energy seemed to be in large part coming form the rank and file not the union. The strike is set for the 29th of April.

Also teachers in S. Cal extended their one day strike on Thursday to a second day in after they failed to reach an agreement. More here.

Finally a call out from the Santa Cruz strike committee has come out asking for actions during the UC regents meeting on May 18-20 and promising another campus shutdown strike at UCSC. Whole text here.

Quote:
We began this on March 4. In Santa Cruz we successfully shut down campus, which proved that when we organize autonomously we can fight back against this repressive institution that denies us power. We can continue by targeting the university administration and by making it absolutely clear that these backroom deals will not stand. We are calling for students, workers, and all allies to mobilize around the Regents’ meeting in San Francisco on May 18-20 and shut it down. We specifically urge Bay Area campuses to focus their energies on this. We are calling for direct actions at schools and universities that shut down business as usual. We also welcome everyone to join us in Santa Cruz for a full campus shutdown. These actions are a warning that if the administration approves the Commission on the Future’s recommendations, there will be escalated actions and the possibility of a longer-term strike in the fall. Nothing will be won unless we take it for ourselves.

It some ways the way this call out is structured is a great improvement over the March 4th call out since it actually takes the step recommending specific actions in specific places instead of the broadly worded "strike and day of action". A good step away from big tent "coalition" politics.

scottydont
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Apr 29 2010 23:10

Teacher's strike in Oakland seemed to go well today. When i stopped by the picket lines at my neighborhood high school at about 6am the pickets were quite energetic, and by mid morning during my lunch break there were a good number of students out with the teachers on the picket line as well as lining major streets near schools. The school district is saying that student attendance was quite high and that almost all of the substitutes crossed the pickets, but most of the numbers I have been seeing indicate that there were only about 300 scabs for 2700 teacher's on strike leaving about 3 teachers per school. Also everyone I have talked to thus far has said that attendance was pretty much limited to kids who had no place else to go (both parents working etc.).

Also there seems to be a fair amount of grumbling about "one day strikes" and a desire to push things further in some quarters. Here is a bit from an interview with a few teachers on the picket line:

Quote:
NIXROWES: I think this will be a big impact, but we also have to remember that this is going to be for one day.

HARRIS: I don’t like that kind of stuff. You go out, the district will think, “Okay, it’s a day. I don’t care.” They save a lot of money, I lose a day’s pay. Friday it will be business as usual.
Because if I was a superintendent, that’s the way I would treat it! “One day? I can ride that out.” If I’m the school board, “I can ride that out. Big deal! You know, they’ll be back in the classroom, doing what you want them to do, and they’ll be mad, but we’ll treat them like the kids. We treat them like kids all the time, and they’ll eat it, they’ll accept it.”
And we will. We’ll be right back in the classroom doing the best we can, and maybe talking about this in the fall. I believe in strikes when necessary, but if you’re going to go out on strike, go out on strike.

Also, dose it make sense to keep updating this thread with events surrounding education in CA? Would it be a good idea to start a new thread in news or to actually start writing fully written up news articles?

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Joseph Kay
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Apr 29 2010 23:14

news articles would be great if you have the time! (they can be pretty brief)

admin could also change the title of the thread to something more appropriate if it's to serve as a running commentary/updates on events.