Category Archives: SUP

March 2 action

Walkout, rally and march to the District against budget cuts

Wednesday, March 2

Short rally starts at 12 noon on the Laney quad

March to the District (333 E. 8th St.) at 12:30

Look for the SUP flags and banners.

The students of Laney College stand at an important moment in time. The cuts from the Peralta administration are an attack on us. Every budget cut takes control over our education and our future out of our hands. The cuts take different shapes and hurt us in different ways. Not only as students, but as people of color, as queer people, as mothers, as working class peoples, as disabled people – all of us have been shown nothing but neglect and contempt by the administration. As the most precarious populations at our school, we are always the most affected by the cuts.

One of these populations is transgendered people. There are no safe spaces for transgendered people to use the bathroom on campus, and often trans people face harassment and confusion when dealing with students and faculty. As of last year, all students have also been forced to pay a fee for non-existant health services such as counseling – so for trans people there is often nobody to turn to on campus, even though such a service is promised to us. If admin has their way, our situation will only get worse. If we want this to stop, we will all need to stand up for one another and fight back.

CUTS MEAN WAR!

Queers Fighting Back (QFB) meets Saturdays at 1 pm, 495 Embarcadero, Oakland

Laney Student Unity & Power

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LANEY CUTS BACK

  • 1. last night’s board meeting
  • 2. the district is illegal
  • 3. cycles of struggle
  • 4. cut the cops
  • 5. to those who lose it

  • 1. last night’s board meeting

    After years of mismanagement and blatantly illegal and wasteful spending, the District and the Board of Trustees want to solve their budget crisis on the backs of students and the workers who advise us, teach us, take care of us and clean up after us.

    Last week, word spread that the Board planned to eliminate the positions at Laney of 1.5 Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) workers and cut 21 other positions at Laney from 12 to 11 or 10 months per year. Management approached individual classified workers to tell them about the cuts, in violation of SEIU 1021’s contract. We hear that the reason only Laney workers are being targeted is because Laney’s President volunteered to begin cuts at our school, even though Laney is structurally underfunded by the District to begin with.

    On Monday morning, the Chancellor’s office announced that the Chancellor planned to remove the cuts from the following night’s Board agenda, the result of a deal struck with the leadership of SEIU 1021. All three unions (PFT, SEIU, IUOE) recently started negotiations with the District on their contracts that expire on June 30. Historically, the District has “negotiated” with SEIU and IUOE by laying off their members. The unions’ staff and leadership then try to stop the layoffs by filing charges as they explain to members the need for concessions, that they are doing everything they can behind closed doors and in court, there’s only so much money to go around, how we need to take the fight to Sacramento, etc. etc.


    2. the district is illegal

    As there is “little resistance” to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise community college fees from $26 to $36, it’s worth remembering how the District has wasted funds and broken the law, all while blaming “Sacramento” for its problems.

    • In 2009, the administration illegally gave itself a pay raise.  The Board refused to act, and later made the pay raise official.
    • In 2009, the Peralta Board of Trustees approved a no-bid contract with Chevron to install solar panels, “despite indications a bidding process could have saved the district $1.5 million.”
    • The District administration failed to file a federal IRS tax return in 2008-09, leading to a $228,520 fine. (Former Chief Financial Officer Tom Smith was finally fired and escorted out of a Board meeting by a Sheriff in Jan. 2010.)
    • District mismanagement and lack of Board oversight led to Peralta being placed on probation by the State Accreditation Commission. In 2010 the Board hired an audit team to put together its first budget in about 1 ½ years. The audit team has cost at least $750,000 so far, probably much more.
    • In July 2010 the Alameda County Grand Jury wrote that “The board as a whole has failed to provide the leadership for the district to which they were elected.” They also cited Board members’ repeated violation of District policies, like Trustee Marcie Hodge’s shopping sprees with a District credit card.

    Cuts are redefining the purpose of community college after previous waves of struggle by independent, militant social movements led by disabled people, single moms and Black working-class youth opened access to community colleges. They also used political demands to decide for themselves what they learn in class and how the school relates to their community.


    3. cycles of struggle

    DSPS workers say that cuts targeting their program are illegal as well. A federal mandate says that community colleges have to provide equal access for students with disabilities. This comes from the militant struggle of disabled people to force the federal government to pass Section 504, regulations that force any institution that receives federal funding to remove obstacles and provide equal access, regardless of cost, to people with disabilities:

    No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    In 1977, coordinated sit-ins across the U.S. took place to demand that the federal government create regulations to enforce the Rehabilitation Act passed in 1973. The San Francisco sit-in of as many as 200 people with disabilities lasted over a month, making it the longest sit-in at a federal building in U.S. history. Without caregivers or equipment, some risked death, but they were supported and cared for by broader circles of movements; Panthers served them meals.

    During the 1977 San Francisco sit-in for Section 504.

    This is the history that the District, Laney administration and Board of Trustees are trying to erase. When the threat of a civil rights complaint was raised at a  recent Peralta Board meeting, PFT-endorsed Trustee Linda Handy told people with disabilities and their advocates to “bring it on.”

    We need to be equally brave in our defense of movement victories, especially in a time of austerity. It’s expensive for the state to continue to expropriate surplus value as the rate of capital accumulation declines. We refuse debt, we refuse schools that exist solely to make us good workers and governable subjects, and we refuse to allow capital to “cut” the lives of single moms, disabled folks and poor people when it runs out of ways for us to produce value for our masters. And to do all this we need to recompose ourselves to defend each other, take control of our schools, win the social wage we need to take care of ourselves and ultimately to destroy the state: Laney cuts back.


    4. cut the cops

    Students and cops have nothing in common. We mourn the life of Guy Jarreau, Jr., a member of the Napa Valley College Black Student Union and childcare worker who was recently murdered by a cop while shooting a music video.

    Later in the agenda on Tuesday, the Board approved a new contract with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department to patrol our campuses. This is the same agency that arrested and beat us during the Oscar Grant protests, that surrounded Wheeler Hall in riot gear during our friends’ occupation, that patrols our neighborhoods and runs immigration status checks as part of the “Secure Communities” program. We want these armed men to stay away from us and stay off of our campus.

    Instead, the cops are a typically wasteful arm of the District. The Sheriffs are one of the few areas of the budget that come from the discretionary unrestricted general fund, meaning that the Board has the freedom to replace the pigs or remove them altogether. Instead, the Sheriffs went $1 million over-budget in 2008, a fact that was only discovered when outside auditors dug through the District’s records over a year later.

    On Tuesday, the Board approved $2.67 million for Alameda County Sheriffs, $415,920 for Securitas thugs and $354,000 for student safety aides. Here’s a breakdown of where the Sheriffs budget is going:

    Position Number of Employees Salary Benefits Total
    Lieutenant 1 $139,035 $82,617 $221,652
    Sergeant 1 $114,562 $69,053 $183,615
    Deputy 7 $671,880 $426,319 $1,098,199
    Sheriff’s Technicians 5 $279,869 $29,349 $309,218
    Secretary 1 $50,004 $154,319 $204,323
    Total 15 $1,225,350 $761,657 $2,017,007

    Other costs:

    Overtime $158,077
    Indirect costs $284,579
    Insurance $83,481
    Supplies $124,374

    One man, this Lieutenant, makes more than any worker at Peralta, including faculty, classified staff and custodians. And while the Sheriffs’ secretary may need therapy to cope with taking orders from uniformed men with clubs, over $150,000 in benefits for a single person seems excessive as the District demands health care givebacks from classified workers at the bargaining table.

    Kids from the Laney Child Care Center walk out on Oct. 7, 2010.


    5. to those who lose it

    District-wide, there were 1,992 fewer students on January 23, 2011 than there were on January 20, 2010. Every semester, we watch Laney deteriorate: fewer class sections, fewer students, overworked custodians struggle to pick up all the discarded plates, papers, cigarette butts. And it’s sad to watch the organizations that are supposed to represent our interests manage their own decline. But we fight for ourselves, our friends who have already been pushed out, and the single moms, disabled students and custodians in struggle.

    Peralta custodians in struggle

    [pdf version]

    Custodians are an essential part of our school. Without custodians, trash would pile up, bathrooms would be unusable; our campus would completely fall apart. You may have noticed that this process has already started, but it’s not happening because custodians are lazy. Instead, it is a result of harsh cuts imposed by the administration of our school. These cuts have given custodians an impossible workload.

    Some issues affecting custodians:

    • Furloughs:  Workers are forced to take 6 days off work per year–unpaid.
    • Speed-up: One worker is assigned to an area where there used to be three workers.
    • Limited workforce: Laney’s custodial staff has been cut from 28 to 12 — and four are subs!
    • Subs:  Peralta is refusing to hire subs because they “don’t have enough experience”. Subs are supposed to become full-time after half a year. The shortest time a sub has worked is 2 years.

    Here’s what custodians have to say:

    §     “The campus is growing–but the custodial staff is not. Instead, we are shrinking.”

    §     “The district office at Laney has 3 custodians assigned to it. The entire E building has 1. That shows you their priority. The administration doesn’t care so long as it doesn’t affect them.”

    §     “We aren’t given enough people to do a good job — they work us like galley slaves.”

    §      “…and they wonder why we’re always tired and sick — we’re overworked.”

    §     “When the administration looks at their budget, they cut part-time faculty and custodians. They think we’re dirt — that we are expendable.”

    §     “The administration is trying to make us pay for their mistakes with their budget.”

    Students and custodians working together against cuts at the University of Washington.

    These cuts are not unique to custodians — all sections of Peralta are under attack. It is especially important that the most precarious people of the school — including custodians, students, part-timers, classified staff — stand together to fight back.

    Cuts mean war. Time to fight back.

    This flyer was written together by custodians & students at Laney College.

    Laney College Student Unity & Power

    A Letter to the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia

    A Letter to the Prisoners on Strike in Georgia

    We, as members of activist and community organizations in the Bay Area of California, send our support for your strike against the terrible conditions you face in Georgia’s prisons. We salute you for making history as your strike has become the largest prison strike in the history of this nation. As steadfast defenders of human and civil rights, we recognize the potential that your action has to improve the lives of millions subject to inhumane treatment in correctional facilities across this country.

    Every single day, prisoners face the same deplorable and unnecessarily punitive conditions that you have courageously decided to stand up against. For too long, this nation has chosen silence in the face of the gross injustices that our brothers and sisters in prison are subjected to. Your fight against these injustices is a necessary and righteous struggle that must be carried out to victory.

    We have heard about the brutal acts that Georgia Department of Corrections officers have been resorting to as a means of breaking your protest and we denounce them. In order to put a stop to the violence to which you have been subjected, we are in the process of contacting personnel at the different prison facilities and circulating petitions addressed to the governor and the Georgia DOC. We will continue to expose the DOC’s shameless physical attacks on you and use our influence to call for an immediate end to the violence.

    Here, in the Bay Area, we are all too familiar with the violence that this system is known to unleash upon our people. Recently, our community erupted in protest over the killing of an unarmed innocent black man named Oscar Grant by transit police in Oakland. We forced the authorities to arrest and convict the police officer responsible for Grant’s murder by building up a mass movement. We intend to win justice with you and stop the violent repression of your peaceful protest in the same way—by appealing to the power and influence of the masses.

    We fully support all of your demands. We strongly identify with your demand for expanded educational opportunities. In recent years, our state government has been initiating a series of massive cuts to our system of public education that continue to endanger our right to a quality, affordable education; in response, students all across our state have stood up and fought back just as you are doing now. In fact, students and workers across the globe have begun to organize and fight back against austerity measures and the corresponding violence of the state. Just in the past few weeks in Greece, Ireland, Spain, England, Italy, Haiti, Puerto Rico – tens and hundreds of thousands of students and workers have taken to the streets. We, as a movement, are gaining momentum and we do so even more as our struggles are unified and seen as interdependent. At times we are discouraged; it may seem insurmountable, but in the words of Malcolm X, “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power on behalf of tyranny and oppression.”

    You have inspired us. News of your strike, from day one, has served to inspire and invigorate hundreds of students and community organizers here in Berkeley and Oakland alone. We are especially inspired by your ability to organize across color lines and are interested in hearing an account from the inside of how this process developed and was accomplished. You have also encouraged us to take more direct actions toward radical prison reform in our own communities, namely Santa Rita County Jail and San Quentin Prison. We are now beginning the process of developing a similar set of demands regarding expediting processing (can take 20-30 hours to get a bed, they call it “bullpen therapy”), nutrition, visiting and phone calls, educational services, legal support, compensation for labor and humane treatment in general. We will also seek to unify the education and prison justice movements by collaborating with existing organizations that have been engaging in this work.

    We echo your call: No more Slavery! Injustice to one is injustice to all!

    In us, students, activists, the community members and people of the Bay Area, you have an ally. We will continue to spread the news about your cause all over the Bay Area and California, the country and world. We pledge to do everything in our power to make sure your demands are met.

    In solidarity,

    UC-Berkeley Student Worker Action Team (SWAT) ∙ Community Action Project (CAP) ∙ La Voz de los Trabajadores ∙ Laney College Student Unity & Power (SUP) ∙ Laney College Black Student Union (BSU)

    The Peralta Report: “Laney College students protest budget cuts, storm Peralta Colleges district headquarters”

    [via The Peralta Report]

    Laney College students protest budget cuts, storm Peralta Colleges district headquarters

    Students at Laney College Children's Center walk out and join rally on campus during the October 7 Day of Action.Students at Laney College Children’s Center walk out and join rally on campus during the October 7 Day of Action. Photo Credit: A Better Laney

     

    Demanding no more budget cuts, staff layoffs, or fee increases, Laney College students held a noontime rally on the main campus quad on October 7. Some later marched to the Peralta Colleges district and briefly occupied the Chancellor’s office.
    Coinciding with a National Day of Action in Defense of Education, the “Speak Out” let any student share how education budget cuts affected them. At the bottom of the event’s stage was a banner that read, “Free Speech Zone,” mocking a policy proposed last spring that critics said would limit free speech on the campus.
    While most talked about budget cuts have affected them, their families and classmates, the overall emphasis of speakers was the press need for organization.
    “This is exactly what we need to do to let our voices be heard and to show the powers that be that we are organized and we are one,” said Jurena Storm, a student member of the Peralta Colleges Board of Trustees. Storm left the rally early to attend a program at College of Alameda that featured a mass graveyard for education.
    Laney College Black Student Union member Timothy Killings told students to take charge of their education’s by being actively engaged in the colleges’ governance, and retaking control of the school.
    “First thing we need to do is clear up the misconception that our school is run by the Board of Trustees,” Killings said. “This is our school.” Killings criticized a new fee policy that dropping students from their classes if they do not pay their fees promptly.
    “People being dropped out of their classes for not paying a $17 health fee,”
    In between speakers, the rally’s emcee, former Laney BSU President Jabari Shaw, rapped the song, “Chop from the Top.” The song – based on a popular chant at Peralta board meetings last fall – became a budget cuts anthem of sorts last spring.
    “People have called the cuts a tragedy,” said Peter Brown, an instructor in the machine technology department. “A tragedy is when someone is hurt and no one benefits. But when someone benefits, that’s not a tragedy, that’s a crime.” Brown’s comment was a reference to Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, Richard C. Plum, a UC Regent who has profited while the tuition has skyrocketed, along with others who benefit while people suffer.
    Shaw then introduced the next speaker, a challenger for the Peralta board facing a two-term incumbent in the November 2 election, adding, “We’re trying to get rid of the incompetents.”
    Monica Tell, a former Laney College student running in Trustee Area 3, introduced herself as a person who grew up in Oakland that is “going to fight the good fight to represent you.”
    Student Adon Ortega, an intern with Californians for Justice, encouraged students to sign a petition about financial aid issues and the district’s new policy.
    “People are supposed to pay fees, and use financial aid, but financial aid doesn’t come until weeks after,” Ortega said.
    Student Jevon Cochran, a member of Laney’s Student Unity and Power (SUP), called for repealing the new fee policy and for cuts from administrators.
    “When these cuts started to come down, they gave administrators raises,” Cochran said. Last year, the Bay Area News Group revealed that former Chancellor Elihu Harris gave raises to administrators against board policy. When trustees found out, instead of repeal the raises, trustees ratified the decision. “They didn’t think it was fair that (Peralta) administrators didn’t make as much as other (districts) administrators. But it’s fair for students to get kicked out of school and it’s fair that workers lose their jobs?”
    Administrators need to fight against the cuts, also, Cochan said, calling on students to go picket the district’s headquarters. “We’ve got to take it to the state and to the administrators too. Let’s march!”
    The rally abruptly ended as about 30 students marched from Laney’s quad, down 8th Street towards the district’s headquarters chanting, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!”
    The group burst into the the Peralta District’s headquarters, interrupting a Benefits Fair for employees. Corporate representatives from CostCo and 24 Hour Fitness appeared stunned as students marched past before doubling back and entering the offices of Chancellor’s staff.
    Staff quickly called Peralta Police Services – a contract of the Alameda County Sheriffs Office – whose offices are housed in the same building. Students continued chanting, demanding to see trustees.
    “We should stay here until the Chancellor agrees to meet with us,” Cochran said.
    Deputy Glen Pace, entering the offices at that same time responded, “Here’s the agreement, you have thirty seconds to leave.” The scene greatly resembled the April 22 board meeting that was shutdown by student’s protesting the closure of the College of Alameda Children’s Center. The group left the building a minute later, while sheriff’s locked and blocking the entrance.
    Students marched back to Laney, with many taking public transportation to join the demonstrations taking place at UC Berkeley.

    Against the new fee policy

    PetitionFlyer

    WHAT’S ALL THIS ABOUT THE NEW “FEE POLICY”?

    Peralta started a new fee collection system for Summer 2010. Students who enroll before the semester begins need to pay up within 10 business days; students who add after the beginning of the term must pay all fees immediately or be dropped from their classes and have their debt sent to collections. Hundreds more East Bay youth are denied access to Peralta schools every month. This policy means the gentrification of our school.

    FINANCIAL AID FOR EVERYONE!

    The district expects us to pay our fees promptly, but how are we supposed to do this when their financial aid system is a disaster? Many students don’t receive financial aid until the end of the semester. The financial aid office is understaffed and there are hours-long wait times in the line every day. Our district expects us to pay our fees immediately, yet they refuse to fix their broken system for financial aid. We should be paid to go to school.

    WHAT DO THE CUTS MEAN?

    Cuts mean crowded classes and stressed out professors. Every cut represents an increasingly uncertain future for Peralta students, workers, and faculty alike. On September 28th the board will meet to cut 10% ($13 million dollars) from the budget. Cuts mean war.

    ABOLISH THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES!

    The Peralta Board of Trustees is a group of seven inept bureaucrats who have neglected corruption within the District and mismanaged the budget. Whether through their fee policy, cutting teachers, or slashing essential student services, the district has shown contempt for the community Peralta is supposed to serve. We can run our school for ourselves, in our own interests.