Seattle, WA-- On Thursday April 8, students, workers, and instructors welcomed an unfamiliar face to a publicly advertised meeting for a campus-wide strike May 3rd. A woman who identified herself simply as “Tani" described herself as an "alum" of UW who was passionate about the cuts. She also said that her father worked with Waste Management and she was in the meeting to find out what the May 3rd strike committee was involved in with regards to the Teamsters' recent call for a strike. "Tani" actively participated in the planning meeting for a large-scale action demanding immigrant and worker justice, student access to UW, and smaller class sizes and writing center to improve education. The following week, however, student activists accidently bumped into “Tani” again—this time, though, as Officer Tanesha van Leuven of the UWPD. We have reason to believe that Tani was sent by the University of Washington to spy on the meeting.
The University of Washington has made police infiltration and intimidation its primary tactic for retaliating against workers and activists fighting privatization at UW. In the Fall and Winter of 2009, immigrant workers faced continuous harassment from the UWPD for talking with other workers about their working conditions, clearly violating labor law. That September, two women of color journalists and activists—a childcare worker and a pre-nursing student—were arrested after interviewing immigrant women workers during their break time about the challenges they face in the workplace. With layoffs and arbitrary shift changes being enforced by custodial services, many workers have experienced inhumane amounts of extra work and speed up. UWPD officers also often harass students who choose to organize within on-campus registered student organizations while they are handing out flyers, or even just walking on campus going to class. For example, last Tuesday, while passing out flyers and talking with students, two women graduate students were approached by a bike officer of the UWPD who told them “I wish I could arrest people for no reason.” These attacks, the violence perpetrated against activists in Seattle, Portland, and Olympia, the increase in police killing of unarmed people of color, and now the covert infiltration of a student group by UWPD raise serious and alarming questions about possible violence and surveillance against students and workers at the hands of the University and its police force.
I'm not one to hype things up... but there's serious business going on out there.
In other news, it's been two solid weeks since the UAW 4121 page has featured any kind of update on the ongoing negotiations. Kind of makes me nervous.
So far today... bike ride, six mile run, an hour of lifting, and some work on my essay for Thursday. Class in an hour (Goethe, already finished the book, which we're almost halfway through after three weeks of classes), then more reading and writing. I'm hoping to get some work in on my seminar papers this weekend, even if I rather would prefer not to. Hurrah for Bartleby.
Jason Webley is awesome. Amanda Palmer is awesome. I'm hoping to catch their show next month... we'll see if that happens.
Have a great day, y'all. I'm off to do a bit more reading / work before class.