UCSC Reunion Luncheon Interrupted to Demand Fair Wages for Workers

The All-Alumni Reunion Luncheon held in the College 9/10 multipurpose room at UC Santa Cruz on April 26th was interrupted when students marched in demanding fair contracts for UCSC’s underpaid service workers. The luncheon was part of the annual UCSC Reunion Weekend where alumni were invited back to campus to “learn how innovation is going global, sip wine, tour new facilities on campus, explore the “unnatural” history of UCSC, and more…” The brief interruption was widely supported by alumni who clapped, smiled, listened, and took souvenir photos as students passed out flyers, chanted and spoke on stage to inform alumni about the contract campaign for UC service workers.

Text of flyer distributed at the All-Alumni Reunion Luncheon:

The UC Service Workers’ Contract Campaign

An Update for Alumni

Since August the UC and the service workers’ union, AFSCME Local 3299, have been negotiating a new three-year contract. These negotiations present an important opportunity for workers to receive more recognition for their hard work. While George Blumenthal and other UC executives have declared their support for labor, little has been done to meet the demands of the workers.

* Market Rate Wages – At the expense of faculty, students, workers and their families, the UC is attempting to keep workers’ salaries below those of their counterparts at community colleges and hospitals. This forces many workers to spend less time with their families as they are forced to work two or three jobs. UC service workers are asking for automatic annual step wage increases that reward seniority, not favoritism, and ensure that everyone reaches the maximum rate.

* Pension and Healthcare Protection – The University continues to refuse to yield its power to adjust pension and healthcare plans during the life of the contract without negotiating. We must ensure workers’ voices do not go ignored as the University violates the terms of their contract.

It is shameful that our community is mistreated by a financially healthy institution. While UC executives are given record wage increases, workers continue to not be a priority of this institution. These demands are for basic financial stability and a fairer reflection of the value of these jobs, because without workers this University would not run.

Voice of an Alum: “As an alumni I want the administration to know that I’m not going to give anymore money unless they agree to share it with the people who do the work that makes the University run. The time for a fair contract is NOW!” -Sandino Gomez

Brought to you by the Student & Worker Coalition for Justice

“Students, Workers and Alumni for Justice!”

Two awards were given out. One to a faculty member and one to a UCSC staff member. Stephen Gliessman, Alfred E. Heller Professor of Agroecology, received the Distinguished Teaching Award; Bob Hastings, director of Current Students in the Division of Graduate Studies, received the Outstanding Staff Award.

Steve Gliessman accepted his award following the interruption and advised the administration and alumni that they should “listen to students.”

Another speaker, David Sackman, told his fellow alumni that the interruption was an example of why he went to school at UC Santa Cruz. An L.A. native, J. David Sackman tries to reconcile the two Jewish traditions in his family (Orthodox and Anarchist) through his job as an attorney for workers, unions and union trust funds, enforcing the commandment of Deuteronomy 24:14-15.

On April 25, 2008, the day before the All-Alumni Reunion Luncheon, an opinion piece by Sackman appeared at JewishJournal.com called, “Black-Jewish Passover not about blame.” People should read the entire piece and challenge themselves to work for social justice by standing up to oppression everywhere it exists. The essay was originally posted on April 12th as a comment on The God Blog by Brad A. Greenberg. The following is an excerpt from Sackman’s essay:

Black-Jewish Passover not about blame
By J. David Sackman

“Why was I commanded to tell the story of Passover to my children? I do not believe it is to exchange blame, as I see being done today. No. I believe it is to remember that his ancestors, on both sides, suffered from oppression, and must oppose oppression whenever they see it again. It is my duty, which I must pass on to him, to stand up against such oppression today, whether against my own people or others.

“I will tell my son of one of my own heroes. Not Moses or Jesus or the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but someone very few people ever heard of: Sigismund Danielewicz.

“Danielewicz was a Jewish barber from Poland who became one of the most prominent leaders and organizers of California Labor in the 1880s. His downfall came at the convention called in 1885, which was the forerunner to the current California Federation of Labor. The main issue on the table was a resolution to drive the Chinese from the state within 60 days, by force if necessary. Danielewicz alone spoke out against the resolution. He pointed out that he was a member of a race still persecuted, and challenged each group there to say whether the persecution of the Chinese was more justifiable than the persecution they had suffered themselves. His call for unity among labor was jeered, and he was declared out of order. The resolution passed, and was the justification for a virtual pogrom of deadly violence against the Chinese in the months that followed.

“Danielewicz sank into obscurity. He was last seen homeless and on foot toward the East Coast in 1910. Why then do I idolize a man who was driven from the podium and doomed to obscurity? Because he had the chutzpah to stand up against oppression, no matter what the cost, simply because it was the right thing to do.”

Crossposted at Indybay.org: Part I & Part II