Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting was interrupted by AFSCME 3299 members advocating for a contract that meets their demands during public comment and conversations focused on a potential $100 million plus in additional funding from the state.
The already crowded public comment period was cut short by the outbreak of an AFSCME 3299 demonstration. Chants of “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” echoed out of the UCSF Robertson Auditorium as demonstrators were required by police to exit the premises.
The period began with the regents facilitator announcing that the period would only be able to accommodate 45 out of 60 requests to speak due to time constraints.
Most speakers spoke in support of AFSCME 3299 and the UC Student-Workers Union (UAW 2865). For their speaking allotment, AFSCME 3299 members from across the UC highlighted the urgency of getting their demands for a new contract being met.
UCSF Medical Center’s principal technologist Edgar Perez began his speech to the regents by leading a chant of “no contract, no peace” backed by the AFSCME 3299 crowd. Perez has worked for the UC for 20 years and striked three times for fair wages and to stop outsourcing, he said. He closed his address to the regents by stating the union gathered 5,000 signatures in support of AFSCME 3299 going on another strike.
“I’m fired up and ready to go back on strike,” Perez said. “If that’s what it’s going to take, that’s what it’s going to take. […] It shouldn’t be necessary for us to go on strike but we’re willing to do it.”
The public comments period also featured UAW 2865 members from different UCs also expressed disgust at slow Title IX responses to their filed cases and voiced support for the AFSCME 3299 union during the comment period.
The public comments period escalated to a close. Perez was called to speak again in an oversight by the facilitator. Perez and the facilitator disputed over whether he was allowed to speak a second time.
The dispute was drowned out by AFSCME 3299 demonstrators resuming their chants. When the chanting continued, the regents and UC administrators exited the meeting room, except for Student Regent Paul Monge and Student Regent-Designate Devon Graves.
About 10 police officers replaced the regents and declared the demonstration “unlawful.” They proceeded to issue a five-minute warning to AFSCME 3299 protesters before police would make arrests.
Following the escorted exit of the demonstrators, the Board of Regents and the Office of the President returned to the meeting room to begin the Public Engagement and Development Committee session. President Janet Napolitano did not directly address the demonstration or the AFSCME 3299 demands and no voting on the matter was discussed in the next session.
On Wednesday, a state Assembly budget panel approved an additional $117.5 million for the UC. A Senate panel had already approved a similar amount last week. This progress toward securing additional funding for the UC comes in response to heightened student lobbying to state budget committees. If officially passed, the increased funds could prevent the proposed tuition hike, which is scheduled for a vote at the July regents meeting.