We are sharing this letter, sent to the Joint Council on July 24, with India Pierce’s permission. At the Joint Council meeting on July 31, we posted her words on the walls around the room:
Dear Union Members,
I, India Pierce, along with the below undersigned graduate students are writing to express our concern with the upcoming hire for a full time organizer and make explicit to whom our support goes as it relates to this hiring. It has come to our attention there is a black trans organizer who has a depth of experience and years of active organizing in the union who is being considered. We write today to advocate for them and to urge the union to finally uplift Black community.
As a Black queer woman and doctoral student, I have never felt completely seen and/or supported by the union. The Union leadership historically has not recruited or maintained relationships with Black grad students, organizers or organizations. You all have the opportunity to right that wrong by making a decision now that will center the voices of the Black community and develop a relationship with Black organizing efforts at the UCs.
Furthermore, the union needs to address the ways that anti-blackness runs through the very fabric of this organization. Anti-blackness perpetually situates Black people at the bottom of the social hierarchy, and as the basis of racism in this country, it is present in all forms of oppression. The absence of any real concerted effort to fight this by the large majority of union leaders makes the hiring of this position all the more important.
An ideal candidate would be able to center black union members and potential union members in their organizing, as well as build campaigns against police violence and anti-Blackness.
Blu has been organizing the union for over five years, has actively brought the union’s presence into key organizations, and Blu’s research is known throughout the UC system as they have direct experience on issues of anti-blackness in progressive politics and actively recruit for the union on a day-to-day basis specifically targeting students of color.
The Union’s motto is “UC for All” — We can’t just say “UC for ALL” and not mean it, we need structural change. We need Black feminist union politics in the labor movement as to prevent the union from replicating the wrongs of the United States labor movement throughout history. The union leadership hires all of the students for its positions. Thus, resources and benefits must be allocated when possible to the most marginalized among us. We’d like to leave you with this question: what is the union doing for people of color?
UCSD PhD Student
Along with the undersigned UC graduate students of color:
Hina Shaikh – Rank and file member
Christina Acosta — Rank and file member
Loubna Quatami — Rank and file member
Aaron Alvarado — Rank and file member
Mick Song — Rank and file member
Caleb Luna — Rank and file member
Krista Cortes — Rank and file member
Anandi Rao — Rank and file member
Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda — Rank and file member
Omar Zahzah — Rank and file member
Alexia Arani — Head Steward
Juan Manuel Aldape— rank and file member
Kerby Lynch— rank and file member
Ramsey Ismail— rank and file member
Belinda Ramirez— rank and file member
Melanie West — rank and file member
Ianna Hawkins Owen— rank and file member
Mellissa Linton-Villafranco — rank and file member
Alicia Wright — rank and file member
Tara-Lynne Pixley — rank and file member
Cherod Johnson – rank and file member