Monday, May 30, 2011

You're INVITED!!! AWDU Dance Party and Fundraiser this FRIDAY!

We have a Facebook page for this event! Please join us!
here is the link:

We are having a party/BBQ/fundraiser for Academic Workers for a
Democratic Union (AWDU)
Come celebrate the achievements and continuing progress of democratic
unionism, the struggle for public education and to support academic
student employees, and to support general good times, and if possible,
donate something to our cause. Also, we will have super cool T-shirts
and buttons you can buy & show your love.

There will be a grill, condiments and bread products - please bring
stuff to grill & share
Also there will be beer. In case that needed saying.

Music provided by DJ Ripley, and possibly others.. Bring acoustic
instruments if you like (horn sections especially welcome!)
Friday, June 3 at 8:00pm-12:00am
Location: The Upper Echelons Of The Machine
                840 W MacArthur Blvd,
                Oakland, CA

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Join us for our Statewide Membership Meeting
Saturday, May 21st 2011
Time: 2:00-5:00pm
Where: UC Berkeley Campus, Boalt Hall, Room 100

Here is the link where you can RSVP and add your own agenda item(s):

Please come to the meeting in Berkeley this Saturday! FREE CHILDCARE will be provided as well as snacks and coffee. We would LOVE TO have the first meeting with QUORUM--100 members from 5 campuses across the state! YOU can make this happen! Come out and participate!

Reply if you need a ride, or if you can provide a ride. We have cars leaving from campus on Saturday!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

AWDU Sweeps Elections---Our Union Will Move Forward in the Fight to Defend Public Education for All!

Dear fellow graduate and undergraduate students,

We are excited to announce that our votes have finally been counted and our reform slate has won nearly 60% of positions on our UAW 2865 union Joint Council!  The 80-member Joint Council is the highest elected body of our union with representatives from every campus.

55% of voters also cast their ballots for our Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) reform slate for the UAW 2865 Executive Board – electing our candidates to all 10 positions on the Board, including President.  The Elections Committee has certified these election results as true and fair.  You can get the full results at

The election itself and our struggle to count every vote has already transformed our union.  The debate and struggle were contentious.  But this struggle opened up a huge new space for thousands of our members to participate in deciding how to defend our interests as a union.  Turnout in the election increased to about 3,400 votes from just a few hundred votes in the last Triennial Election for the Joint Council and Executive Board.

The struggle to count the votes also deepened member involvement in our union.  Last Saturday, when three members of the election committee halted the vote count, abandoning the ballots of 1500 members regardless of their votes, UAW members spoke up.  Thousands of members wrote letters, signed petitions, and made phone calls to demand that the votes be counted.  Members organized to guard the ballots that the statewide officials abandoned in the UCLA office.  Members rallied, marched, and sat-down at the UAW statewide office.  It was an unprecedented display of member power and the result was the resumption of vote counting by the statewide officials.

Now it is time for us to bring this strength to our fight against the attacks on higher education.  As a next step, we are calling on all graduate students and undergraduate tutors – no matter who they supported in the election – to come together for a statewide membership meeting of the union on May 21st to chart the way forward.  We’ll get you more details soon.  But high on the agenda is stepping up the fight against increasing class sizes, fee hikes, rising housing costs, new budget cuts, and UC management's capping of funding for fee remissions and health benefits for graduate student employees.

We will stand together against the attacks on higher education, in real unity borne of fruitful discussion that includes disagreement.  A grassroots, bottom-up union is strong when it provides space for open debate, and we hope that every member continues to express criticism when necessary.  We also know that many members of the USEJ slate and many USEJ supporters never wanted to stop the vote count in the first place.  We hope that the Elections Committee’s dismissal of the fabricated allegations by some of the outgoing union officers will help up us begin a more honest dialogue with each other.

The incredible diversity of our newly elected Joint Council and entire union is a vital strength that we must actively build upon.  By working together, including with the new Joint Council members from USEJ, we will win historic advances for the rights of student-workers and the expansion of public education.  We look forward to building a new kind of union together.

In Solidarity,

Molly Ball, English – UC Davis – Outgoing Campus Recording Secretary
Justin Clement, History – UC Davis – Campus Unit Chair-Elect
Tim Gutierrez, Sociology – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Brenda Medina-Hernandez, History – UC Davis – Trustee-Elect
Andrew Morgan, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Tom O'Donnell, History – UC Davis – Candidate for Head Steward
Nickolas Perrone, History – UC Davis – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Brian Riley, Education – UC Davis – Graduate Student Association Chair
Blake Ringeisen, Biological Systems Engineering – UC Davis
Jordan Scavo, History – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect
Jessica Taal, Education – UC Davis – Head Steward-Elect

Chima Anyadike-Danes, Anthropology – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Jordan Brocious, Physics – UC Irvine – Sergeant-at-Arms-Elect
Ben Cox, Anthropology – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Cheryl Deutsch, Anthropology – UC Irvine – President-Elect
Anne Kelly, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Seneca Lindsey, Earth System Science – UC Irvine – Head Steward-Elect
Nick Seaver, Anthropolgy – UC Irvine
Bron Tamulis, Political Science – UC Irvine
Natali Valdez, Anthropology – UC Irvine
Robert Wood, Comparative Literature – UC Irvine – Campus Unit Chair-Elect

Carolina Beltran, Spanish & Portuguese – UCLA
Ginny Browne, Urban Planning -- UCLA
Mindy Chen, Social Welfare – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Will Clark, English – UCLA
Erin Conley, English – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Yu-ting Huang, Comparative Literature – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Renee Hudson, English – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Dan Lichtenstein-Boris, Public Health – UCLA
Dustianne North, Social Welfare – UCLA
Alexei Nowak, Comparative Literature – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Jeremy Schmidt, English – UCLA – Candidate for Unit Chair
Hadley Theodara Suter, French – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Julia Tomassetti, Sociology – UCLA – Candidate for Recording Secretary
Zachary Williams, Political Science – UCLA – Candidate for Head Steward
Elise Youn, Urban Planning – UCLA

Chris Carlson, Mathematics – UC Riverside – Steward-Elect
Elliott Kim, History – UC Riverside – Southern Vice President-Elect

John Armenta, Communications – UC San Diego – Candidate for Campus Recording Secretary
Muni Citrin, Communications – UC San Diego
John Higgins, Literature – UC San Diego – Candidate for Campus Unit Chair
Megan Turner, Literature, UC San Diego

Olivier Dufault, History – UC Santa Barbara
Sunny Lim, History – UC Santa Barbara
Jeb Sprague, Sociology – UC Santa Barbara

Josh Brahinsky, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Erin Ellison, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz
Rachel Fabian, Ocean Studies – UC Santa Cruz
Michelle Glowa, Environmental Studies – UC Santa Cruz – Head Steward-Elect
Donald Kingsbury, Politics – UC Santa Cruz
Jessy Lancaster, Psychology – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Recording Secretary
Brian Malone, Literature – UC Santa Cruz – Outgoing Campus Unit Chair
Mark Paschal, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Jeb Purucker, Literature – UC Santa Cruz
Sophie Rollins, Literature – UC Santa Cruz
Jeff Sanceri, History – UC Santa Cruz – Graduate Student Assembly President
Trevor Joy Sangrey, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Sara Smith, Labor History – UC Santa Cruz – Northern Vice President-Elect
Anika Walke, History of Consciousness – UC Santa Cruz
Mary Virginia Watson, Politics – UC Santa Cruz – Campus Unit Chair-Elect

Amanda Armstrong, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Matt Bonal, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley
Rachel Brahinsky, Geography – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Shane Boyle, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Dan Buch, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Chris Chen, English – UC Berkeley
Kfir Cohen, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley
Mandy Cohen, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley – Statewide Recording Secretary-Elect
Rob Connell, African-American Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Alex Dubilet, Rhetoric – UC Berkeley
Alex Dumont, English – UC Berkeley
Charlie Eaton, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Financial Secretary-Elect
Barry Eidlin, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Eli Friedman, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Pablo Gaston – Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Jessie Hock, Comparative Literature – UC Berkeley
Nick Kardahji, History – UC Berkeley – Trustee-Elect
Sarah Knuth, Geography – UC Berkeley
Katy Fox-Hodess, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Zachary Levenson, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Munira Lokhandwala, Film – UC Berkeley
Katherine Maich, Sociology, Berkeley
Callie Maidhof, Anthropology – UC Berkeley
Larissa Mann, Jurisprudence & Social Policy – UC Berkeley
Daniel Marcus, Art History – UC Berkeley
Micki McCoy, History of Art – UC Berkeley -- Head Steward-Elect
Blanca Miss̩, French РUC Berkeley РGuide Elect
Megan O'Connor, English, Berkeley
Aaron Platt, Sociology – UC Berkeley
Manuel Rosaldo, Sociology – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Gustavo Oliveira, Geography – UC Berkeley
Chris Schildt, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Jessica Smith, Chemistry – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
John Stehlin, Geography – UC Berkeley
Cate Talley, French – UC Berkeley
Alex Tarr, Geography – UC Berkeley
Jennifer Tucker, City and Regional Planning – UC Berkeley – Campus Unit Chair-Elect
Daniela Urban, Law – UC Berkeley
Megan Wachspress, Jurisprudence & Social Policy – UC Berkeley – Campus Recording Secretary-Elect
Josh Williams, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley – Head Steward-Elect
Brandon Wolf, Performance Studies – UC Berkeley


We've gotten word from our members in LA that we should have the final results very soon. We will keep you posted as soon as we find out any information. The elections committee is meeting now to certify the elections results. The sit-down in Berkeley continues, and AWDU in LA has been ever vigilant in keeping the ballots safe and keeping the count going. Thanks to all members and supporters for the past WEEK of work!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


We have word that the vote count has resumed in L.A., with the presence of the third party observer and the local's International Reps and Administration Caucus members Mike Miller and Ken Lang present. We will keep this blog updated as we get more information about the progress at the count. Word is that it has been calm and slow-going so far.

The Davis GSA also posted the following statement on their website:

Resolution Regarding the Counting of the Ballots for UAW 2865 Elections:

In light of the controversial decision to halt the voting count for the leadership of UAW local 2865 last Saturday, the GSA is pleased to observe that the count shall resume tomorrow, Thursday May 5th at 9:00 am. Furthermore, the GSA urges the Elections committee to finalize the ballot counting procedure according to the bylaws of UAW 2865 and with due diligence, impartiality, and speed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

UCLA Graduate Student Association Responds to Vote Count Situation..

We think this offers a very trenchant analysis of the events of the past several days. Please read this important letter. You can access the UCLA GSA website to see the actual post here. 
We are happy that a time and date has been set to resume to vote count in LA. The votes will be counted beginning at 9 am this Thursday (tomorrow)! We will keep you posted on the progress of the count. A big thanks to all the AWDU members and supporters from across the state who have been keeping the ballots safe in LA and who are sitting down at the statewide office in Berkeley until the votes are counted. Onward...

GSA Officers Call on UAW Leaders to Resume Elections

May 3, 2011 - 3:30pm

Fellow graduate students,

You may have been following the recent elections of union officials for UAW 2865, the union representing student academic employees including GSRs, teaching assistants, tutors and readers across the UC. Under normal circumstances we would not need to comment on these elections, as they are intended to be a straightforward matter of student-workers making a choice. However, it is precisely this ability to choose that is now at stake. As graduate student advocates, we are intervening to bring a measure of clarity in an important matter unfolding on our campus that involves our fellow students.
There is a possibility that ballots from UCLA and Berkeley will not be counted, representing nearly half of all voters in this election. We cannot reconstruct a moment-by-moment history of these elections. Suffice it to say, the UAW Elections Committee, possibly in violation of bylaws, suspended the vote count before tallying ballots from UCLA and Berkeley after it had been determined totals from other campuses would likely result in a victory for the incumbent slate, United for Social and Economic Justice (USEJ). The Elections Committee voted to defer further counting to a Joint Council meeting approximately two months away and fled the scene before objections could be heard.

While it is possible to read these events as fairly straight forward and unproblematic, we find a few key developments and political realities troubling.

1. There is a general consensus of those close to the election is that there is a fair or better chance that when UCLA and Berkeley are counted the challenging slate, Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) will win, though this is speculation. However, if those ballots are not counted, incumbent slate USEJ will win.

2. The logic of self-interest leads to distinct political strategies for each slate. USEJ incumbents benefit most from a strategy that invalidates remaining uncounted ballots. AWDU challengers, who have the chance to win if all ballots are counted, benefit most from a strategy that protects the ballots.

3. The incumbent president of the union so far appears engaged in a strategy consistent with the self-interest of USEJ. Daraka Larimore-Hall widely distributed a misleading email and blog accusing AWDU of preventing the ballots from being counted and accusing them of vote-tampering. His evidence was a picture of an alleged AWDU supporter opening and reaching into a ballot box at Berkeley. It has since been confirmed that this picture captures a volunteer poll worker setting up a voting station before voting began. It is unlikely that this posting was a misunderstanding, given that the picture in question fails to depict key elements of an active station, elements that should be apparent to the union president who was actively engaged in the campaign. His accusations could only cast doubt upon the validity of the ballots, a move that benefits him.

4. AWDU is engaging in a campaign consistent with their self-interest (and we might add, the interests of voters), and has locked the ballots in a room that they cannot open (though USEJ can). They are also currently filming the ballots and you can watch them twenty-four hours a day on live feed. In addition, AWDU activists from three campuses have been camping out at the union office on Hilgard, guarding the ballots and waiting for the count to resume. Accordingly. we find it hard to believe claims of AWDU obstructionism.

5. Considering the justifiable suspicion of unethical conduct, based on troubling behavior of those who stand to gain from postponing or prematurely ending the election, a two-month waiting period may be too long to protect the ballots from doubt of corruption and ultimate disqualification before the counting process resumes.

We call on the UAW leadership and Elections Committee to do the right thing and count the votes. We find the apparent willingness of current leadership to postpone this election and falsely taint the votes of members to be extremely troubling sign of a strategy based on self-interest, unbefitting those seeking further terms in power. We believe this union is too crucial to the wellbeing of teachers and those they teach for leadership to play into stereotypes of bad unions, but the problems too important not to acknowledge and attempt to rectify. There is only one way to insure fairness not only to both sides, but most importantly to voters, and that is to count the votes now. Let the chips fall wherever they may.


Cheye-Ann Corona, VP of External Affairs
Luis Limon, VP of Internal Affairs
Kimberlina McKinney, VP of Academic Affairs
Jason Ball, Communications Director

Regrettably, media did not respond to GSA requests for press coverage of this brewing controversy when we were informed of it on Friday. As such, most material available on the matter is partisan. However, if you are interested in looking into the matter further, we provide the following links and have faith in your ability to parse out something more or less true from the competing claims in each. Please note we could only find two sites that represent a distinctly USEJ perspective, but we encourage you to communicate with them through their website for their take on allegations made against them.

Official AWDU Statewide Site
Official USEJ Statewide Site
(No USEJ at UCLA site found)

Mr. Larimore-Hall's Post Alleging Corruption

Response from the Accused Poll Worker

Live Feed of Remaining UCLA/Berkeley Ballots

Petition by Labor Scholars Demanding All Ballots Be Counted

THOSE WHO USE IT, A popular blog on the UC student movement that has followed the elections.

Daily Cal article covering som possible union bylaws violations

Monday, May 2, 2011


UAW Local 2865 office in Berkeley
Supporters show up in solidarity from ILWU Local 6 and ILWU Local 75

We are members from UCSC, UCD, and UCB waiting for the vote count to resume in LA, and we are staying in our office until the count is finished. We are in solidarity with the members who are in the UCLA UAW 2865 office. 


The previous post detailed some of the more absurd claims that USEJ has leveled at UWDU over the past few days. One of them was a picture sent out by Daraka Larimore-Hall, accusing a member and poll worker at Berekely of tampering with the ballots. Below is that person's response to the accusations. His name is of course used by permission.

I am the person in the picture.  I would estimate that it was taken around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 27.  It could be a little before or after; I wasn't keeping track of the exact time.  I was setting up the polling place at Sather Gate on Wednesday morning.  This is a picture from just before I opened up the poll.  I had tested the ballot box, and the way the slot had been cut, you could not get ballots to go in because the second layer of flaps blocked the opening.  So I opened the box to tape those flaps down, then closed it again.  After doing that, I finished arranging the materials on the table and opened the polling place.  My solution to the ballot box design flaw didn't work particularly well, because the flaps inside came un-taped and the ballots got a bit gummed up inside.  But I didn't open it again, because by that point voting had started.

We took the utmost care to make sure that the election was free and fair.  We followed all the union's safeguards to make sure that everyone's vote was accurately cast and safely counted.  We carefully tracked the number of ballots we were given and the number cast so that none would go missing and none be added.  If voters had questions about candidates, we did not give them our opinions but directed them to the candidate statements.  If they asked further, we let them know that representatives from both sides were available to speak to them.  In those cases, I always directed voters to the representatives from both sides, including to Mr. Larimore-Hall.  

I'm sad that there has been either a misunderstanding or a deliberate misrepresentation of this photograph.  If Mr. Larimore-Hall had come to speak to me, I could have shown him the problem with the ballot box and demonstrated that voting had not yet begun.  If he had come to speak to me, he might also have learned that I didn't have a stake in the election and was a first-time volunteer just trying to help out the union.  On the day of the balloting, it would have been all the same to me if Mr. Larimore-Hall had won reelection.  But now I'm not so sure.

Kenneth Fockele, UC Berkeley

Sunday, May 1, 2011


In an apparent attempt to rally his base UAW Local 2865 President Daraka Larimore-Hall sent a message to his “supporters” claiming that the counting of votes was no longer possible due to politically motivated challenges on behalf of AWDU supporters. The email claims that “AWDU challengers at the count . . . blocked the counting of ballots at UCLA in an effort to erase their votes,” while also curiously claiming that “AWDU members attempted to physically prevent the election committee from leaving the ballot counting room.” It does not make much sense that AWDU supporters would both prevent the counting of ballots while forcing the election committee to remain in the ballot counting room. Which one is it Mr. Larimore-Hall? Did they try and prevent the counting of ballots or did they try and force them to count the ballots? More serious than this curious claim is that of voter fraud on behalf of AWDU supporters.

The main thrust of Mr. Larimore-Hall’s allegations of voter fraud are based a photograph that he posted along with his message. The photograph posted below shows a man with his hands clearly in what appears to be the ballot box at a polling location at Berkeley.

Mr. Larimore-Hall boldly uses this photograph as proof that “an AWDU supporter at Berkeley was photographed opening and rummaging through the ballot box while polls were open.” These are very serious allegations that Mr. Larimore-Hall apparently made very hastily and perhaps without actually looking at the photograph or asking any questions surrounding its circumstances. The first thing one notices when looking at the photograph is that this man is the only one present, aside from the photographer. Is it possible that the reason this man was left alone with all of the polling materials in a very contentious election is that he is the poll worker for this location? Furthermore, this man has been identified and has no connection with the AWDU organization. He simply responded to an email requesting the service of poll workers for the upcoming election. Where is the proof that he is an “AWDU supporter?” Should we just take Mr. Larimore-Hall at his word?

Upon closer examination one also notices the long shadows in the photograph. Could these possibly have been cast by the early morning sun? Say around 9:55 AM? If one looks closely at the photograph the box appears to have no tape on it yet. How is this possible? All ballot boxes are supposed to be adequately taped before polling begins. Yes, it is possible that this unidentified “AWDU supporter” arrived at the polls before they opened, only to find a vacated polling place, where he then rummaged through an empty ballot box, and all of this happened to be captured by a USEJ supporter on his or her camera which they then forgot about until late Saturday evening, when the vote appeared to be trending toward an AWDU victory. Or, the more likely context of the photograph is that this man is a poll worker setting up the polling station for a day of voting. If these accusations were true and caught on tape, why did Mr. Larimore-Hall wait until Saturday night to let his supporters know of such an egregious violation? Again, Saturday night is when the vote began to trend in favor of an AWDU victory.

Perhaps more troubling than the Mr. Larimore-Hall’s improper use of this photograph as a basis for claims of voter fraud are his allegations that “when USEJ members [left the vote count at UCLA], AWDU members hurled homophobic slurs at USEJ members.” This is ironic, especially considering that six of ten AWDU Executive Board candidates identify themselves as queer or bisexual. Given the record of AWDU members and candidates, the accusation that homophobic slurs were hurled at USEJ supporters as they abandoned the vote count is shameless and absurd. Using an accusation such as this in order to activate your base is unacceptable in any circumstance, regardless of how frustrated Mr. Larimore-Hall was with the prospect of losing the election. This misleading and disgusting accusation is hardly befitting of an individual who is or would like to remain the president of our local.

Join us in demanding that Mr. Larimore-Hall retract his accusations of voter fraud based on this photograph, apologize for and retract his claims of AWDU homophobia, and set the record straight about who is trying to steal the election. We demand that all votes be counted immediately, and AWDU candidate-members and members remain in the UAW LA office. They have been trying to get a neutral third party to take custody of the ballots to ensure that they will be safe and so that USEJ cannot claim that the ballots are “spoiled”. We continue to urge all members who voted in the election to e-mail Larimore-Hall ( and International representatives Mike Miller ( and Ken Lang ( to demand that the counting resume in LA.