April 7 FIST Statement: All Out to Stand with UNC Workers! Fightback to Defend the Public Sector!
Posted by raleighfist on April 23, 2011
We stand in full solidarity with the Building Services workers at UNC Chapel Hill who are taking bold action on April 7 by sitting out of work all day to protest a scheduling change being made under the banner of budget cuts.
Workers in this country and around the globe have been battered by the capitalist economic crisis. Our communities have been devastated by foreclosures, layoffs, and deep cuts to the public sector which provides a basic safety net for the basic needs of the working poor and all society. Since the onset of the crisis, politicians have taken every measure they can to not only to protect profits, but are slashing every public service and siphoning even more social wealth into the private coffers of banks and corporations in an historic attack on working people. The bosses are counting on us to stay disorganized and are using every tool they can to keep us divided. But after having so much taken from us and enduring years of attacks, workers are rising up and fighting back.
Many of the Building Services workers at UNC Chapel Hill had been working ten hours, four days a week, which allowed many to save costs on transportation, to provide for childcare, or to have second jobs because of the low wages paid by UNC. With deep cuts looming for the UNC system again this year, which could be as much as 20-30%, the administration is eliminating 10 open positions in Building Services by forcing all the workers to work five, eight hour shifts per week. On April 7, many of these workers will be taking off of work, withholding their labor for the day, to protest yet another attack on their livelihoods in this period of deep state budget cuts. They will be joined by housekeepers from the UNC Chapel Hill chapter of UE Local 150, the NC Public Service Workers Union.
State workers haven’t had a raise in over three years, yet university administrators, including system president Tom Ross, have seen their salaries increase. Measures are being passed in the GOP-controlled NC legislature to make workers pay into their healthcare plans for the first time (an average of $1,800 per year pay cut) and increase payments to see a doctor. Nearly every social service–from daycare programs, AIDS treatment, eldery care–is being slashed, and as many as 10,000 state workers may be laid off. Public workers in North Carolina still do not have the basic, fundamental human right to collectively bargain, which is made illegal by the Jim Crow-era law still on the books.
The UNC system faces deep budget cuts once again, with classes and enrollments at universities being slashed, campus centers that serve oppressed students are in the middle of the budget cross-hairs, thousands of professors will be laid off, and universities are increasingly relying on low-wage adjunct faculty while tuition is being raised through the roof. The state is managing the budget
crisis on the backs of workers and students, making us pay for a crisis that was created by the banks and corporations.
All this, while these same banks are sitting on literally trillions of dollars handed to them in the federal government bailouts, corporations are raking in record profits, and the U.S. continues to pour billions into the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and is waging a new war on the people of Libya that has already cost more than a billion dollars. Governor Perdue and the GOP are also lowering the corporate tax rate in NC to the third lowest in the nation, essentially handing out $500 million to corporations.
The action being led by the Building Services workers at UNC is exactly the type of action that is needed in this period if we hope to push back the tide of attacks on the public sector. Every worker, student, and community member should be out at the demonstration in solidarity with these workers taking this important action and stand shoulder to shoulder to fightback against budget cuts. Our unity–across all lines of social division the bosses use to keep us separated–is our greatest strength.
Around the world, the “sleeping giant” that is the working class is waking up and feeling its strength. In places like Wisconsin, Ohio, Egypt, New York, Tunisia, Michigan, Tennessee, and many more, workers and students are standing together, taking their destiny into their own hands, building a fighting movement to defend our interests that are under attack by the rich and putting forward a peoples’ program. Let’s build the movement to defend the public sector!
Victory to the UNC workers!
Don’t balance the budget on the backs of workers and students — Tax the rich and corporations!
Repeal Jim Crow GS 95-98 — Collective bargaining now!
All power to the people!