(Loosely based on a speech I gave in the bargaining room at UC Davis during UC/UAW contract negotiations)
After listening to all these members talk about how they have had to go into serious debt to make it through grad school, despite our so called “full-funding”, due to our extremely low salary I can’t help but make the connection of our current contract struggle for more competitive pay to the larger student movement against privatization and student debt.
On the other side of this wall used to be a US Bank, but students and workers sat down in front of it, day after day, protesting the fact that capital has literally been welcome and given a space on campus. They were protesting what might be called, the University-Banking Complex, that much like the Military-Industrial complex, has some scary implications for society.
After US Bank was forced to close these students faced trumped up charges that could have led to up to 10 years in prison and $1 million in “damages”. The Davis Dozen, or the Banker’s Dozen, as they have been called eventually got community service, but the threat was very real. If you attempt to interrupt the University-Banking Complex your life can and/or will be ruined.
I find it disturbing how many UC Regents are current or former bankers. Monica Lozano for example was on the board of Bank of America, while at the same time a UC Regent. She would literally vote to increase tuition in the morning and then watch as BofA made more money through student loans.
And its not just tied to tuition, but also as grad students, its about our pay. I personally have taken out a total of $16,000 in my three years to just help me pay the rent, since I am a student-parent. Now UCD wants to tear down the only affordable family housing on campus and replace it with housing that costs twice as much.
We demand better pay. We demand affordable housing. Our contract fight is just one small battle in this war against the University-Banking Complex, and is just one way in which we can push back the tides and reclaim our university, our lives, and our futures.