UCSC Workers Offer New Year Resolutions To Shape Up UC

Members of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 3299 (custodians, food service workers, gardeners, maintenance workers, shuttle drivers and medical center workers) as well as students, teachers, and community allies, rallied at UC Santa Cruz on January 31st, the same day AFSCME’s contract with the University of California (UC) expired. The demonstration coincided with AFSCME Local 3299’s statewide delegations to all five UC medical center CEOs and all ten campus Chancellors to present a list of seven new year resolutions that the UC System must adopt to ensure quality patient care and student services.

The demonstration, began with a rally in the Baytree Plaza at UC Santa Cruz and was followed by a march to Kerr Hall, where the chancellor’s office is located, to demand justice for UC’s lowest wage workers. AFSCME Local 3299 and their allies are calling on Chancellor Blumenthal to take leadership within the UC to support UCSC workers and strengthen the broader Santa Cruz community by granting AFSCME members a fair contract with market rate standards and benefits protections. AFSCME organizers assert that, “outrageous executive compensation continues to be a top priority at UC while frontline workers struggle to make ends meet.

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Campus Earth Summit: Sustainability Focus or Farce?

The 7th annual Campus Earth Summit was held on January 31st at the College 9/10 Multipurpose Room at UC Santa Cruz. The well-attended event was organized by the Student Environmental Center and the Sustainability Office at UCSC and featured local speakers, a ‘low carbon’ lunch sourced from local organic farms, workshops on reducing ‘carbon footprints’ and conversations about environmental sustainability at UCSC. The summit was held in conjunction with Focus the Nation, a nationwide climate change teach-in happening simultaneously at over 1,000 colleges and universities across the USA.

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Wednesday Night Dinner at the Elm Street Mission in Santa Cruz

The Elm Street Mission, “a non-profit church that works with homeless men and women to show them the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit,” is located in downtown Santa Cruz next to a record shop, art gallery, café, spa, metro center, night club and some housing. On the Elm Street Mission blog, Pastor Ben Palm writes that the church provides between 4,000 and 5,000 meals each month, and in an August 2006 interview with Laura Mattingly, he said approximately 75% of the recipients are homeless.

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Gabriela León at UC Santa Cruz: Sunday Walk to the Zócalo of Oaxaca

Gabriela León Vázquez gave an artist talk at UC Santa Cruz on January 29th about her exhibition at UCSC’s Sesnon Gallery, Sunday Walk to the Zócalo of Oaxaca (Paseo dominical por el Zócalo de Oaxaca). She was born in Cuautla, Morelos, Mexico in 1973, and is currently living and working in Oaxaca. The exhibition, on display until March 8th, is a multi-media artistic response to the popular revolt and resistance that unfolded in Oaxaca in 2006 and 2007, including photos from the Peoples’ Guelaguetza (la Guelaguetza Popular) on July 16th, 2007.

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$50,000 Sunday Stroll on the Westside Railroad Tracks

On January 27th, People Power, an advocate for human-powered transportation in Santa Cruz County, hosted a walk along the rail corridor in Santa Cruz in response to recent threats by Union Pacific to fine “trespassers” up to $2,000. The walk in the rain, which brought out more than two dozen people, featured local historian Ross Gibson who included information on the past and possible future of rail transportation in Santa Cruz County. The Sunday stroll began at Swift Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz and ended at Bay Street.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) has been in negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for over three years to acquire the line. The SCCRTC has agreed to pay $19 million to UP for the Santa Cruz Branch (rail) Line.

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