Web feature

Walkout by faculty, unions and others slated for Thursday

| 21 September 2009

Members of the University of California faculty have called for a systemwide walkout by UC instructors on Thursday, Sept. 24, to protest the budget cuts, layoffs, furloughs and increased fees that have been implemented in response to the state's dramatic cuts in funding for the university. Their call for faculty to "walk out in defense of public education" has also drawn support from student organizations and unions.

Excerpted below are letters to the UC Berkeley faculty, students, deans and directors, and campus staff describing the campus response to the planned faculty walkout and one-day strike by members of the UPTE union.

Letter to faculty from Academic Senate chair Christopher Kutz (Sept. 17):

Dear colleagues:

As you may know, a group originating at UC Davis has called for a systemwide walkout from classes on Thursday, September 24th (the first day of the term for the eight quarter-system campuses). The organizers mean the walkout to express disapproval of UCOP policies regarding furloughs, tuition increases, layoffs, and compromises to instructional programs. A website describing the walkout is at ucfacultywalkout.com.

This action will coincide with a strike by UPTE, the union representing UC's research support professional employees and technical employees. It appears that other groups, including staff and students, may walk out and/or picket on that day. There will also be a range of communications and educational activities about the budget crisis and public education on campus. Some faculty may prefer to teach their classes off-campus, so as not to cross a picket line.

The Berkeley Senate Divisional Council shares the deep concern of all faculty, students, and staff about the terrible effects of the budget cuts imposed on the public teaching and research mission of the University. However, after discussion, the Divisional Council also recognizes the diversity of faculty opinion on the merits of a walkout. We therefore neither endorse nor oppose a walkout, regarding participation in it as a matter of individual faculty conscience, and knowing that faculty will meet their obligations to their students. We know that the campus administration sees matters in the same light.

[...]

Yours in shared governance,

Christopher Kutz
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate
Professor of Law

Message to students from Provost Breslauer (Sept. 22)

Dear student colleagues,

Many of you may have already read that faculty on several UC campuses have called for the suspension of teaching across the UC System on September 24. UPTE, a union that represents research support professional and technical employees at Berkeley and other UC campuses, has announced that it plans to hold a strike on the same day.

Our primary goal during strikes and other forms of work stoppages is to continue to fulfill the educational mission of the University. Thus, classes will be held as originally scheduled, unless your instructor has informed you about an alternate arrangement. In addition to classes, all other activities of the University will continue as usual.

Students, employees and visitors may encounter picket lines at certain entrances to the campus on Thursday. The law protects the right of all individuals to cross picket lines. The campus has experienced employee strikes in the past. In all cases, picketers have been very committed to their point of view but respectful of the views of others.

For up-to-date information about campus operations on September 24, 2009, please consult the campus home page.

Sincerely,
George W. Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Letter to deans and directors from Provost Breslauer and Chancellor Birgeneau (Sept. 18):

Dear colleagues,

As you are aware, faculty on several UC campuses have called for the suspension of teaching systemwide on September 24, partly in response to the implementation of the University's furlough program. As you know, University policy does not permit taking a furlough day on a teaching day.

How instructors respond to the call for action next week is a matter of personal prerogative. In the past, some instructors have resolved the personal dilemma of choosing between a strike action and teaching by holding classes at different times or locations. By policy, department chairs may authorize changes in class meeting times and locations in response to urgent situations, including work stoppages, provided that the overall course commitments as outlined in the course syllabus are fulfilled. Any instructor who does not plan to teach during the scheduled time or location is urged to communicate with the chair in a timely manner and, as a courtesy, provide advance notice to the class of alternative arrangements.

Thank you for your assistance in providing the education that our students deserve.

Cordially,

George W. Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Robert J. Birgeneau
Chancellor

Letter to staff from Jeannine Raymond, Human Resources (Sept. 21):

[...]

Representatives of the University and UPTE have been bargaining since March 2008 [labor agreements covering UPTE-represented employees expired June 30, 2008] but have not yet reached agreement on new contracts. The Berkeley Local of UPTE ... has now called for a one-day strike for September 24, 2009. It is the University's position that the UPTE strike is not protected under HEERA as the parties have not yet completed the bargaining process, much less the statutorily mandated impasse process. While UPTE has filed unfair practice charges, which the University believes are unfounded, the mere filing of a charge does not confer a legal right to strike and therefore there is no legal basis for this activity by UPTE. The University has notified UPTE of its position.

In the event of a strike, the campus may experience some inconveniences, such as reduced bus service and delayed deliveries. However, all employees are expected to report to work and meet their job obligations. Offices will be kept open, classes will be taught, and the campus will provide normal or equivalent services. Departments will be provided with specific information about steps to be taken to manage the situation.

Employees, students, and visitors will likely encounter picket lines at some entrances to the campus and buildings. The law protects the right of all individuals to cross picket lines. In all previous employee strikes on campus, picketers have been very committed to their point of view but respectful of the views of others.

We continue to be hopeful that the University and UPTE will soon reach agreement on the issues outstanding between them. We respect the right of our workers to express their opinions on bargaining issues.