Here the the film that Howard Kling put together. He came on Kent’s delegation and was pretty much busy all the time, filming.
AFT 2121 Strike at City College
A strike has been looming on the horizon at City College for many months as the administration balks at negotiations with the union and contract talks are stalled. A one-day strike (an unfair labor practice strike, protesting the failure of the administration to bargain in good faith) was planned for today, April 27. Preparations began at least a month ago. Most of the faculty had never been on strike before and didn’t know what to do or what it would be like. So the day was announced and flyers went out. Then the administration, rather than deal with picket lines making it hard for other workers to come into the college, to say nothing of the students who would arrive and find picketers with handbills and signs, decided to close the whole place. Simply put a sign on the door saying “Closed.” The union took this as a victory — the administration basically struck itself. But the strikers still gathered and picketed.
We met at 8 am at the Evans campus, one of the 12 City College campuses. This campus is where most of the trades programs (automotive, carpentry) are located, as well as Labor Studies which Joe teaches. Our group started small but eventually there were about 25 of us. Bill Shields, head of the Department of Labor and Community Studies, explained the plan: picket from 8:30 to 10:00, a tight line circling around the corner, then go to the rally at Civic Center. Followed by more picketing 4:00 – 6:30, and a party at a bar on in the Mission at 7:00. The picket captain is the man on the right, in the tweed jacket; he brought the signs and a couple of boxes of goodies.
We got the idea. People driving past honked.
Then it started to rain.
By then it was nearly 10 anyway so we went and had a good breakfast in a Bernal Heights cafe. The sun came out. We took the bus down Mission Street to 8th and Market where the rally was going on.
The signs and posters make the issues pretty clear. Everybody gets to talk.
The reason why attacks on City College is another way of accomplishing gentrification is because one way to get rid of low-wage or working class people is to eliminate the major social institutions that they depend on. Before this fight began four years ago (2012), City College enrolled 110,000 students. Now it’s down to about 70,000. Where have those students gone? At $46 a credit, City College (and the other 100-plus California Community Colleges) are a real deal, a real ladder of opportunity. But take that ladder away, and it becomes more hopeless to try to live here.
A note to our Vietnamese students: All this is “Power Theater.” This is not stuff that takes place at the bargaining table. It takes place on the phone, in hallways, and especially out on the sidewalk and in the street. It’s a way to demonstrate that there is collective power behind the negotiators at the table and they are willing to use that power. The Power Theater part of bargaining takes a whole lot of planning and coordination. It’s just as much, if not more, work than the table negotiations. But it works.