UAW Local 2865 President confronts UC Irvine students about New Contract

(via thosewhouseit and UC Rebel Radio):

This past Wednesday, November 17, a group of graduate students at UC Irvine met with UAW 2865 President and arch-anti-strike bureaucrat Christine Petit, asking her perfectly reasonable questions about why the union leadership remains staunchly opposed to calling a strike, why they sold us out for a pay cut in real terms, and why they parrot the “share the pain” logic coming from UCOP and their campus administration.  Note how Petit twice answers substantive questions by launching into ad hominem attacks on the members who asked them, as well as the awkward exchange in the last few minutes regarding job offers from management to bargaining team members.  You can listen to the hour-long exchange here. (Click play on the third file down called “Meeting w/ union president.”)  Below we are posting two short but revealing transcribed excerpts.  Rank-and-file members’ questions and comments are italicized; Petit’s responses appear in normal font.

To the UAW 2865 e-board and bargaining team: stop colluding with management!

Twin enemies: UAW bureaucrats and UCOP bureaucrats.  One enemy: bureaucrats!

It wasn’t felt like [a strike] was needed?

No, I mean that’s what we – we thought that we would need to go on strike, and so we were preparing for it, but the things that people were agitated about first of all were child care, then we managed to win on that, and then they were really agitated about the bad faith bargaining.

Who was agitated about the child care?  You said “people”…

A lot of our members!  I mean, how we get a sense of our members and priorities and everything is, you know, bargaining surveys, departmental meetings, unfair labor practice strike pledges, so we were, like, running around campuses, you know, getting people to sign onto unfair labor practice charge pledges, having departmental meetings, things like that.

When did that happen at UCI?

Huh?

When did that happen at UCI?

I know Jorge, our Vice President, did some work with other activists on campus, but unfortunately I’m not a bargaining committee member…

Christine, I mean, Jorge never contacted me, and I’ve been a steward since last spring.

Uh huh.

And I was looking out for communication via email and phone calls, so please.  Please.  Don’t say it was our fault that we didn’t have leadership on this campus because that is crazy.

Why don’t we just go on strike and demand that 7 % [raise]?  Or more?

Because when you go on strike you can actually lose some things that you have agreed to.

But actually, when we went on strike back 10 years ago when this thing first started – when the UAW first started to become part of this, I was here.  And actually, that worked.  That’s what made the UC Regents budge.  It wasn’t the negotiations; it was the strike.

No one’s disagreeing with you on that.

So why don’t we do that again?

Every context is different.  Like I said in 2003, we held out and we struck over sympathy strikes, and we lost, you know, some of our rights in orientations.  You know, it happens.

That was something that they hadn’t already put forward on the table?

Right, we had something better on the table on orientations went we went on strike.

So going on strike kind of wipes the slate…

Yeah!  Yeah!  I mean, it’s like, we won fee remissions, we staved off threats to our job security, we won the child care remission, we won all this stuff, and to go on strike for, you know – like people on the bargaining committee who wanted to hold out for more wages were like, “Yeah, 1 or 2 percent more.”  It’s like, okay, you’re gonna go on strike for 16 bucks, 18 bucks more a month, and possibly risk this other stuff?  No!  The majority of people said, “No, that’s not worth it.”

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