GEU Joins Other Unions at the State Capitol to Defend UCONN Budget Against Draconian Cuts

GEU-UAW members stand up to fight the disaster budget passed by the CT state legislature. We need a budget that serves the people of Connecticut! This current iteration of the budget and any future one that would sacrifice public education and social programs for a quick fix to the state budget, is a cruel attack on the students and workers of our university, and more broadly on the working class of Connecticut that has already sacrificed so much. Public education is and always will be an investment that any rational government should make, and more importantly it is a fundamental part of a democratic society to have strong public schools and universities. We can easily balance our budget, invest in our state, and diversify our economy for a more stable and prosperous future if we are willing to prioritize education, students, and working-class people over profits. The solution to our so called “budget crisis” is front of their noses, but will they have the spine to actually work for us; the very backbone of this state and its economy? Make no mistake, they are waging class warfare, but they forget; that we are many, and they are few. Together we will win!

GEU Local 6950 President Steven Manicastri was among the many labor leaders speaking at the rally in front of the State Capitol in Hartford on September 21. Below is the full text of Steven’s speech:

 


Good afternoon everyone,

I am Steven Manicastri President of GEU-UAW Local 6950 and a PhD candidate in political science. The GEU-UAW represents about 2100 graduate employees who perform vital teaching and research for the university and who are active members in their local communities of Connecticut.

We are proud of the role we play at UConn, providing face-to-face teaching that makes an affordable quality education possible for the children of Connecticut’s working families, and carrying out research that helps bring tens of millions of dollars into our state’s economy. We cannot, however, excel at either under this budget that reflects the misplaced priorities of the 1%. UConn serves the people of Connecticut. By making such draconian cuts to UConn, as well as other critical state services, this legislature’s budget does not serve the people of this state. We need a budget that serves the people of Connecticut. As both graduate employees and graduate students we are in a unique position to see the full consequences of such an austere budget. This current iteration of the budget and any future one that would sacrifice public education and social programs for a quick fix to the state budget, is a cruel attack on the student and workers of our university, and more broadly on the working class of Connecticut that has already sacrificed so much. This budget is a serious misallocation of priorities, sabotaging the education of thousands of students who chose UConn as their school, and who depend upon an affordable and comparative education from our institution. Public education is and always will be an investment that any rational government should make, and more importantly it is a fundamental part of a democratic society to have strong public schools and universities.

Here’s what the budget of the 1% will do: it cuts funding to our university so dramatically that the Health Center could be closed, numerous academic programs would be eliminated, tuition will become unsustainable, and higher education workers and faculty will be taxed beyond their capacity to provide a quality education to Connecticut’s youth. These big cuts will immensely hurt the quality of students’ education because our working conditions are their learning conditions. The type of one-one teaching that we pride ourselves in, depends entirely upon the ratio between instructors and students. But that’s not all, the 1% are not satisfied to destroy the education of thousands of students, they also seek to drastically reduce the earned income tax credit, a proven program for improving the lives of working poor people. Their budget eliminates the Citizen Election Program, effectively closing the door to a representative democracy, while handing it over to those with enough money to run for elected office and win. They can’t ever lose if the rules are always in their favor right? Cuts to vital state services and programs like those contained in this budget hurt working families.

Without any progressive revenue options, this budget is solely another way for 1percenters to line their pockets at our expense, while we create all the wealth through our labor. These are the results of the unwillingness by our elected officials to focus on the very regressive tax system that allows millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers an exclusive tax break, including a Carried Interest Loophole that lets them pay 19.6% less than the rest of us. We can easily balance our budget, invest in our state, and diversify our economy for a more stable and prosperous future if we are willing to prioritize education, students, and working-class people over profits. The solution to our so called “budget crisis” is front of their noses, but will they have the spine to actually work for us; the very backbone of this state and its economy? Make no mistake, they are waging class warfare, but they forget; that we are many, and they are few. Together we will win!