September 27th marked the first day of Fall quarter at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC). The Baytree Bookstore was packed with students purchasing books while the Baytree Plaza was filled with fraternities and sororities attempting to lure in the incoming freshman. At 3pm, women and men who are service workers at UCSC organized with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 initiated an informational picket for a fair labor contract. Workers, some with their families, were joined by student allies for a powerful rally sending a strong message to UC administration that AFSCME, the Student Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ) and graduate students organized with UAW Local 2865 are united in demanding that UC prioritize workers, students and their families.
“We’re fighting for quality student services,” says Ernie Encinas, a cook at UCSC since 2003. “In my time here, I have seen a lot of UC decisions that hurt good students services and education at the University. When UC refuses to prioritize full time work, it makes it impossible for us to give students the best. I work side by side with many students who are trying to support themselves, some who work several jobs on top of their school work just to get by. We have to make UC prioritize students because that’s who we are here for.”