UCSD STUDENTS, JANITORS’ UNION VOW
TO ESCALATE ACTIONS UNTIL DEMANDS MET
LARGE CROWD EXPECTED FOR FRIDAY DEMONSTRATION
Echoing campaigns waged across American campuses this year, UCSD students and workers plan to intensify their activities in demanding that the University adopt Living Wage and Responsible Contractor policies at the La Jolla campus.
On Friday, June 1st at 12:15pm, a march will begin at the UCSD Price Center—then move into the streets of La Jolla.
The action follows a month of tense dealings between students and University officials, and janitors and UCSD’s subcontractor, Bergensons Property Services:
Local 2028 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which began the organizing drive in late April at UCSD in response to janitors’ complaints of harsh treatment and low compensation, has filed 5 separate charges with the National Labor Relations Board for unlawful conduct by Bergensons, such as threats of job loss, interrogation, and firing employees for their Union activity.
The UCSD Students For Economic Justice (SEJ) and supporters among the faculty and San Diego’s religious community have appealed to University officials to intervene now, and set policies for the future which would guarantee Living Wage and benefit standards to the janitors, along with a Responsible Contractor Policy to ensure that only companies who abide by the law and respect workers’ rights to organize would be eligible for the school’s business.
After receiving no response for nearly a month, 20 SEJ members entered the Chancellor’s Associates meeting, attended by the Chancellor’s major financial donors and administrators last Tuesday, demanding to be heard. A melee ensued, with students being assaulted and forcibly ejected by University officials from the event as they began to speak.
These events precede the demonstration Friday, as does a hastily called meeting by University officials to finally meet with the SEJ today, Wednesday, May 30th. The students gave the officials until 10am Friday to meet their demands to rehire a fired janitor, apologize for the assault on Tuesday, and agree not to complete the bid process for a new janitorial contract set to expire September 30 until talks can be held on living wages and responsible contractors.
“This University has ignored evidence of lawbreaking toward workers on campus, and ignored its students appeals for dialogue,” said SEJ organizer Cathy Medrano. “If they cannot act responsibly and believe that roughing us up and, by their silence, enabling the mistreatment of workers will go unchallenged, they will be the ones getting an education here directly,” Medrano concluded.