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May Day Protest at Pasadena City College: Dolores Huerta Supports Campus Labor

by raeanna lee & cyndi Saturday, May. 04, 2002 at 4:51 AM

300 students, staff, and faculty march in solidarity with workers around the world on May 2.

Three hundred faculty, staff and students at Pasadena City College marched at noon May 2 to illustrate their unity in supporting each others' issues and demands and in solidarity with all workers internationally. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, argued for prioritizing education over funding the prison industrial complex and U.S. military operations. Shouting, "Schools not jails, food not bombs," Huerta led the assembly in a lively round of "Vivas!" and chants. Students for Social Justice, MEChA, Latin American Issues and Arts, and the Student Union (the first community college Student Union to be formed in California history)rallied support for the faculty and student labor demands. Six months ago, the current faculty union leadership overwhelmingly won their election, replacing the long-time representatives who were unsympathetic to adjunct faculty labor disparity. Working without a contract for two years and with a pay rate ranking of 67th out of 71 California community colleges, the entire faculty is demanding a pay raise for all faculty, benefits and office hour pay for adjunct faculty. Roger Marheine, lead negotiator for the faculty union, remarked that the core group of faculty is growing and is now much more aggressive, militant and most importantly, visionary than previous union leadership. He believes that the significant outcome of the new union structure and today's rally is the growing development of solidarity campus-wide with the adjunct faculty joining full-time first, followed by the staff, then the students and finally, the CalWorks students. Jerry Blanton, president of the California School Employees Association, spoke representing the staff on campus. He expressed his support and optimism regarding the connections being made among all the campus unions and the students. Erin Austin, CalWorks employee and student, encouraged everyone to actively voice opposition to the 90% proposed cuts in funding for the CalWorks program. CalWorks is a state subsidized program to empower families on assistance and to provide employment and job opportunities. Austin, said "CalWorks helps single women with children to get on their feet, and live above the measley poverty line. To abolish it, will leave us homeless and below the poverty line, so we're out here to lobby for everyone's support." Acela Ojeda, a CalWorks campus employee and student, expressed gratitude for Huerta's comments regarding feminist organizing, because the virtual elimination of CalWorks through Davis' proposed budget cuts, "Is another example of how women are not valued in our society." All participants viewed today as a positive base for future unity and organizing.

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