Day of action, rally in Sacramento planned for March

About 70 people representing teachers’ and workers’ unions and Occupy movements from around northern California gathered into a cramped conference room in Berkeley Saturday afternoon to discuss ways of combining individual Occupy movements into one larger movement next year.

The meeting took place at the offices of United Auto Workers Local 2865 — a union that represents thousands of graduate student instructors, readers and tutors — where those present voted to hold a statewide day of action on March 1 and a rally in Sacramento March 5.

Organizers called for members from various community college, university and city Occupy movements to organize local mobilization activities on March 1 in anticipation for a rally at and subsequent occupation of the state capitol building on March 5.

“These actions won’t stop all the budget cuts,” said Andy Libson, a member of a union representing educators in San Francisco. “But they will be the beginning of a marshaling  of our side to show that we are not going to take it anymore.”

For Occupy Cal, this means another set of rallies, teach-outs and large scale general assemblies that have been characteristic of the movement since it began over one month ago. It is also another opportunity for protesters to voice concerns about declining state funding and increased tuition before the UC Board of Regents meets in March.

But because Saturday’s meeting brought together several previously independent movements and issues, several attendees at the meeting expressed a need to join efforts in calling for reform to the state’s education system in order to avoid additional cuts.

“It’s really important to go to Sacramento together because what we are all facing is interconnected,” said UC Berkeley junior Eden Foley. “The university budget cuts and rising unemployment are all affected by the same issues and it’s not just affecting students. We have to listen to that and show the state who we are.”

By taking their concerns to Sacramento in large numbers, organizers said their call to action could be the start of a new movement to transform public education and bring it back into the hands of students, faculty and staff.

Many in the room echoed this sentiment, some of whom came from community colleges, hoping to bring a movement that has now caught wind at many of the state’s public four-year institutions to a system that has also seen drastic budget reductions in recent years.

“I see students sleeping in class because they have to work 40 hour weeks to pay for classes at San Mateo,” said Dan Kaplan, a professor at San Mateo Community College and executive secretary of American Federation of Teachers Local 1493.

Because community college students do not live on campus and many work long hours, Kaplan said the Occupy movement has failed to gain momentum in the system, but added that the planned day of action and subsequent rally in March will prompt many teachers to hold teach-outs about the problems facing higher education in California.

Kaplan said he plans to hold a teach out on the structure of income and wealth in the United States.

“The emphasis is to create a broader social understanding in America,” he said.

Because the events for March are still in the initial planning the stages, organizers will meet again Dec. 17 to discuss establishing working groups for outreach and communication.

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.

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  • Anonymous

    I am a UC staffer living on under $50K per year with no raises for the past 4 years. My “entitled” pension will give me about $300/month when I retire. People keep posting about how UC budgets are so bloated, but we are on bare-bones staff over here. People quit or retire, and their tasks are handed off to remaining staff instead of rehiring.

    Yes, big-money donors keep spending m/billions for new buildings and art projects, but their donations do NOT go to academic programs, nor to staff or student services (like the health center, sports, counseling, and many other student life programs). Please educate yourselves before quoting your favorite Fox News anchor and try to think about the little guys who work here, and the students who now need $20K+ per year to stay in school here.  UC’s budget takes only 12% from the State of California!

    • Stan De San Diego

      “I am a UC staffer living on under $50K per year with no raises for the past 4 years.” – Hey, at least you have a job. The official unemployment rate in this state is about 12%. Add in all the people who gave up looking for work, as well as people who are grossly unemployed, and it’s probably closer to 18%. In agricultural areas in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys, it’s over 25%. Even among those of us working, many of us are making less than we were 5 or 10 years ago. You can always quit your UC job and get one in the private sector (you know, the people who pay the taxes to support you) if you think you’re getting a raw deal.

  • Anonymous

    Glad to see this action being held. I’m sure there are many constituents (students, professors, faculty, staff, administrators, etc.) who are ready to give these legislators a mouthful. We need to get rid of this idiotic 2/3 legislative vote requirement for modifying our tax structure and raise some revenues. It’s ridiculous how we’ve almost gone backwards in terms of progress. We need to look forward and put down adequate funding for our educational systems. 

    • [We need to get rid of this idiotic 2/3 legislative vote requirement]

      It’s not “idiotic” at all. It keeps the dumb bunnies from panicking and raising taxes on a simple majority vote. As bad as it is in California, it would be even worse, given that Dems look for every possible excuse to raise taxes…

  • Lefties love teach-ins, mass demonstrations, and “days of action” because the geriatric hippies who found their way into academia are still caught up in their 1960’s protest mentality. Responsible adults in the real world research the issues, decide their priorities, come up with a plan, and present their argument to those who have the power to change the situation. When are you people going to realize that the state of California is broke, and that yelling and screaming and fighting with the cops won’t remedy the situation? How about taking a hard look at the UC budget, educating yourselves about how much money is spent on different programs, decide what’s important, identifying non-essential and wasteful spending, then demanding that these funds be spent to address the undergraduate tuition funding gap instead? This is what educated, rational, intelligent people do in the real world, instead of pitching tents and getting into pissing contests with the campus police…

  • Anonymous

    I can hear the chants:

    We are Libs, we are Libs, we want more, we want more, pay up suckas!

  • Rc

    I worked 40 hours a week (minimum) and supported my family while taking a full load for four years. I graduated on time and never had time to blame someone else for my challanges. Mr. Kaplan, give the theoretical constructs of income distribution a rest and provide an experiential learning for your students by having them get a job and attend classes. It was a great learning experience. I’m sick of listening to faculty in this state that have this never ending entitlement mentality.

    • Anonymous

      how much was tuition then? How much were you paid? Did you earn enough to cover tuition? Lucky you, today people don’t.

      • Stan De San Diego

        So how much has student tuition been lowered since you Occupy kooks had your silly protest? Not a penny. You and the rest of you aging 1960’s leftovers have basically indoctrinated a bunch of gullible children into thinking that their tents and confrontation with the cops are somehow “making a difference”. Sorry, but the state is still broke while at the same time the UC Administration still wastes millions on crap that has NOTHING to do with education whatsoever. Why don’t you people focus your attention on the waste and distorted priorities of the UC system that have resulted in tuition assistance being shortchanged in the first place? Or is pushing the liberal progressive agenda ultimately more important than an affordable undergraduate education for Cal students?

        • Anonymous

          I am interested in hearing specifics on what you consider wasted expenditures and distorted priorities in the UC system.  The university system is shortchanged because its funding has been drastically cut over the past several years, and invested funds were hard-hit because they were all in the stock market. Less income has led to student fees being drastically raised.

          I do not see a causal connection between a lack of funds due to a “liberal progressive agenda,” but perhaps you can enlighten me with your reasoning behind this.

  • CB

    “I see students sleeping in class because they have to work 40 hour weeks to pay for classes at San Mateo,” said Dan Kaplan

    I worked 40 hours a week the entire time I attended college–and somehow managed to stay awake.  Gimme a break.

    • urbs

      Good for both of you. Clap, Clap, Clap.  But guess what, this isn’t about you.  Grow up.  See if you can think about someone other than yourselves.  By the way, would you like to tell us the story about waking up a 4 in the morning and walking 5 miles to school in the snow.