Last Friday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 3299 announced that it will be going on a UC-wide strike next Wednesday and Thursday, June 4 and 5.
The strike comes after 10 months of negotiation between the University of California and patient care/service employees at the five UC hospitals and 10 campuses. AFSCME workers argue that they are underpaid by the UC, while their community-college counterparts earn up to 25 percent more in wages. UC argues that it does not have enough money to raise wages. Workers have decided that striking is currently their best option.
At UC Santa Cruz the strike will occur at the base of campus, and during those two days there will be no Metro buses going onto campus, no shuttles running on campus, and no cars allowed past the picket line. While AFSCME is understanding of students leaving and returning to campus to go to work or to return home, they are asking people not to cross the picket line to go to class, and to abstain from going to the dining hall. They’d even like for students to join workers on the line.
We at City on a Hill Press agree with these requests.
I know that this probably sounds like a big pain. Yes, we have class Wednesday and Thursday, yes we have places to go, yes, we have meal plans and would like to eat in the dining halls. But push those petty things aside; this is bigger than that.
If you really sit down and think about it, there is not much difference between the students and the workers. We as students are also worried about money; we keep on seeing our fees go up every quarter; we as students have felt ignored by the UC. The same is true for workers.
Furthermore, we as students could not possibly function without the dedicated efforts of UC service workers. We are intricately related in the UC Santa Cruz web; we are one, and their fight is our fight.
And so, it’s our duty to stand in solidarity with the workers next week. Don’t cross the picket line. Talk to your professor about teaching class at the base, or downtown, or even in someone’s home. AFSCME is passing out fliers to give to faculty, which makes your job that much easier. And if your professor refuses to cancel class, don’t go. I’m sure it’s much better outside than inside anyway.
It’s important that we do this. AFSCME strikes have worked in the past, and are an effective way to change things for the better. And it’s always important to fight for change — it makes the victories that much sweeter.
Still think there’s no need for change? The UC gave its new president, Mark Yudof, $9 million to renovate his home, but somehow there is no money to raise wages. There you have it. Enjoy and merry picketing.