Student sit-ins and occupations have become a common sight in California over the last couple of years, but this week has seen something new — a sit-in at a union office.
Two factions have been competing for leadership of UAW Local 2865, the local that represents academic student employees in the University of California system. Balloting in the union election ended eight days ago, but the vote count was suspended abruptly last weekend, and has yet to resume.
The incumbent United for Social and Economic Justice slate shut down the count last Saturday, claiming irregularities in the voting and alleging that the insurgents were using “scorched earth tactics” to disrupt the process.
The challengers, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union, countered that USEJ pulled the plug because of fears that AWDU might win an upset victory, and staged a sit-in in the union office to press for transparency in the process. Expressing concern that the disruption “contributes to the public perception that unions are corrupt and outmoded,” a group of labor scholars released a public letter calling for the count to resume.
The AWDU, which grew out of California’s student protest movement, says Local 2865 has operated undemocratically, has passed up opportunities to forge coalitions with activists in the state, and has rolled over in contract negotiations.
On Tuesday, the two sides agreed on protocols and mediators for a resumption of the count, but that resumption, slated for yesterday morning, hasn’t yet occurred. Meanwhile, the two sides continue to exchange accusations on their respective blogs (USEJ and AWDU).
Fingers crossed for a swift and just end to this stalemate.