By Mia McIver, UC-AFT President
Contingent teaching faculty and librarians at the University of California recently voted to create three new working groups to combat racism and support each other with mutual aid. With the firm conviction that Black Lives Matter, UC-AFT members aim to align our union’s efforts with those of activists fighting for racial justice nationwide.
- The Anti-Racism Committee is conducting research and analysis in order to propose specific steps UC-AFT should take to organize and collectively bargain toward anti-racist goals. They are considering both internal reforms and external initiatives.
- The Policing Committee is drawing up recommendations for positions and resolutions on the UC police departments and combatting police brutality within and beyond the university. Policing Committee members will also recommend whether and how to act in coalition with other UC advocacy groups focused on law enforcement.
- The Housing, Homelessness, Renters’ Rights, and Refugees Committee (HHRRR, or “Hearts” for short) has started a member hardship fund that has already collected more than $8,000 in donations and disbursed $4,500 in emergency relief. Evacuees of the recent wildfires have received some of the initial assistance. UC-AFT’s hardship fund supplements the AFT and CFT Disaster Relief Funds and helps meet the urgent needs of librarians and lecturers who have experienced illness, natural disasters, and job losses.
All three of these groups represent democratic unionism in action. Through their participation in the committees, rank and file UC-AFT members are empowered to shape their union and lead us forward.
I’m thrilled that UC-AFT leaders are dedicating themselves to these ideals. In particular, I believe that transformative anti-racist work will catalyze our struggle for justice and equity for Black and brown workers and students. It will supercharge our organizing, galvanize stronger relationships among members, and ultimately strengthen our ability to generate positive change at the UC.
We need to seize the moment, scrutinize ourselves carefully, and join a generation of activists demanding nothing less than full racial equality.