Two weeks ago USAS brought together 70 students from schools across the West Coast for a “USAS Organizer Boot Camp”. During the Boot Camp, USAS and MEchA students from across the UC system made plans to support ASFCME 3299 workers in their fight for a fair contract.
After becoming aware of our own campus workers’ struggle within the UC System in establishing a fair labor contract we realized that we needed to stand in solidarity. Last week MEChA de UCLA officially endorsed the campaign to support AFSCME 3299 in their contract negotiations until they win a fair contract. As a community we move forward and when one of us falls we all do.
Our first official action in solidarity with the workers was attending AFSCME letter delegations. Delegations to bosses are when workers take time before or after work or during their breaks to personally address issues with their bosses face to face. It is a form of direct action that allows workers to speak about the experiences and struggles they face every single day. MEChistAs were in attendance at several different delegations throughout the UCLA campus and UCLA Medical Center on Thursday November 15th. This day is significant because it also falls on the same week as the UC Regents meeting at UCSF. The UC Regents are the decision making body that the campus and hospital workers must negotiate with for their contract. MEChisAs and USASers also stood with AFSCME workers at schools across the UC System on Thursday, showing that we are united in our support for our campus workers.
The delegations were powerful. The police were called at least two of the delegations, which was disappointing given the fact that workers just want their voices heard. The last delegation of the day was successful because we were able to fill the Vice Chancellor’s office and he was forced to listen to several workers and their concerns. He had an answer for every concern that the workers brought up and diverted each budget question we asked, but we know the truth. The truth is that there’s money to pay workers, and campus and hospital workers deserve every last demand they see necessary to support quality education and quality patient care. We will help FORCE the UC to make workers a priority.
Just weeks ago we attended a USAS Organizer Boot Camp where we met with students from UC Riverside and UC San Diego, and made plans to support our campus workers until they win the respect and dignity they deserve. We will be working together throughout the coming year, and hope to get students from every single UC campus involved in the fight. When we fight together, we win!