In its second day of canceled classes and chanting picket lines, University-wide strikes seem to be sending their message to UCSB students.
Approximately 400 strikers and their supporters paraded through campus Tuesday in a series of picket lines and campouts throughout campus. Dozens of students joined protesters and many more honked their car horns in support of the strikes, said UCSB Coalition of University Employees (C.U.E.) President Debbie Ceder.
Much of the campus ground to a halt as United Parcel Service and Federal Express workers refused to cross picket lines to deliver their packages. Strikers were seen encouraging students to skip class to rally with them, and some protesters made their way into lecture halls during classes.
“There were a group who chanted down halls while students were in class trying to get students to come out of their classes. Those people stopped after we received a complaint from Labor Relations,” Ceder said. “If students feel the need to support us, we’ve encouraged them to come out and show that support.”
In a joint strike between C.U.E. and University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT), members from the unions crowded various entries to campus in protest of alleged bad-faith bargaining practices.
“The basic message is that the UC is the worst employer in the state,” said Children’s Center teacher and C.U.E. member Mary Laperriere. “Sometimes that’s all people have – what they can do with their bodies. This is a learning experience about labor for students. Students recognize that we pretty much make this school work.”
According to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux, the impact of the strike was “minimal.” Six classes in the College of Letters and Science were canceled outright, one administration office was closed entirely and the Graduate Division reported no changes.
“It is the sense in the College of Letters and Science that a vast majority of classes were held although some were rescheduled or moved to outside locations – one sociology professor held class in his own home so students wouldn’t need to cross picket lines,” Desruisseaux said. “The only office closed outright was Loan Collections, where the staff of four or five were C.U.E. members.”
The aim of the strikes, to inform students and attract media coverage, has been served, however, Ceder said.
“I’m glad to see [C.U.E. and UC-AFT members] taking such strong actions because job security is very important. They keep this place running; they deserve it,” sophomore film studies major Alexis Brodey said. “The need to cancel classes brought it to everyone’s attention; now it affects us.”
Although the picket lines are effective in informing students, strikers should instead target systemwide administration officials who are actually involved in negotiations, junior communication major Margo Moritz said.
“I think they’re silly – it’s effective for the students to see but not for the people that negotiate with them,” she said. “I think it’s totally unfair for them … but picketing is more for the effect.”
The University has made no new offers in response to the unions’ strikes, Ceder said. If the trend continues, there may be another strike in the near future.
“We’ve been invisible to the system but we’re giving it all we have in hopes of making some progress with the University,” she said. “If nothing changes, we might need to strike again, for however long it takes.”
Associated Students President Chrystine Lawson encouraged students to support the unions and not focus their frustrations on strikers.
“The administration needs to be targeted when students have frustration or anger from the strike,” she said. “I’m optimistic that the strike will succeed on C.U.E.’s terms, but that will require action on the part of the University.”