Saturday, July 9, 2016

Oh What, We're Not Gonna Strike?

You know me. Why would I ever pass up the opportunity right? It should probably come as no surprise that I am asking my fellow workers in the City University of New York to vote 'no' on the proposed pay cut and power grab from Governor Cuomo, Bill De Blasio, and Chancellor Milliken.

So a union is supposed to fight for worker power, right? To get a better living standard, worker control, and worker democracy, that's not happening right now. The union leadership tell us that this was the best they could get.

CUNY workers should have their suspicions.

It's certainly not the best the city can give. Last year, for instance, the city managed to spend over $700,000 on automatic weapons. Put another way, that's at least 10 annual living wages in New York City.

Yet despite having enough a budget for the NYPD to run elaborate spy operations to entrap otherwise innocent Muslims, we workers in the CUNY system are expected to believe that we must take a pay cut.

It is unacceptable.

It is unacceptable that students must have starving instructors at the end of the month as the prison budget booms. It is unacceptable that a city that pays officers to knock over mango carts cannot guaranty their workers true job security and opportunity for advancement. It is unacceptable that the city cuts deeper into its sprawling public university system while asking students to pay more.

We didn't get to this point by accepting the unacceptable. We got to this point with a resurgence in militancy and active participation in a union whose leaders would as soon agree to a pay cut to avert a strike. Recall, it was the CUNY workers, not the union leadership, that voted to authorize a strike and did so with 92% of the vote.

We can look back, loss of a contract in hand, and insist that we knew there would never be a strike. This is a lie. This is a hope - a wish. This is a prayer from April to June that they just give us a fair contract.

We still haven't gotten that contract.

But we definitely voted on that strike. We knew the consequences. We voted overwhelmingly for an illegal strike. You don't get that from a mass email, you get that from a membership that's pissed.

And we're still pissed. Not a single statement from the union leadership in favor of the contract (and the union leadership has only sent out statements in favor of the contract) has had anything especially glowing to say. They are all apologia to the hard work of the union leadership. They acknowledge the loss and somehow this loss is supposed to swing us into a series of wins.

Any strategy that requires losing is a losing strategy. A vote for an unfair contract is a vote to lose. I want to win. We win by standing firm as workers united in a struggle against an institution that hands us bad deals. We win by refusing any encouragement to take bad deals.

We win by voting no on this contract.