On-campus workers will demand higher pay at a rally today – and they’re bringing a 12-foot-tall devil to back them up.
The rally, which coincides with demonstrations at all UC campuses, will feature a mock tug-of-war between labor and management, public speakers and a giant devil puppet symbolizing the evil of the UC.
“Our rally is definitely going to be the coolest,” said Allegra Heidelinde, University Council-American Federation of Teachers field representative.
Representatives for every on-campus union will attend the rally at Storke Plaza at noon. Lecturers, clerical workers, technicians, graduate students, nurses and janitors will be among those participating in numerous offbeat activities aimed at drawing attention to the ongoing negotiations between UC and two of the unions. Both the Coalition of University Employees, the union representing clerical workers, and UC-AFT, which represents lecturers, have been in contract negotiations with UC since 2000.
Featured speakers will include representatives from the two unions and history Professor Nelson Lichtenstein, who specializes in labor history.
Some attendees will come dressed in 1930s garb as part of the event’s “Regentsville” theme, which plays on the “Hooverville” squatter’s camps that proliferated during the Great Depression.
A soup line will serve both staff and student attendees, “to show how the regents are driving us into poverty,” said Steve Hopcraft of UC-AFT.
The event is co-sponsored by the Student Lobby and organizers are hoping for a high student turnout.
“The students know that our work environment is their learning environment,” said Brandon Johnson, C.U.E. Local 1 President.
Johnson said that campus workers are paid far below market rate and that UC has the money to remedy the situation.
“UC has $4 billion dollars in unrestricted funds, by their own accounting. Our main message is that UC has the money to pay more without increasing student fees,” he said.
Students will be able to sign postcards supporting the workers that will be sent to Chancellor Henry Yang, UC President Richard Atkinson, Gov. Gray Davis and state Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson.
“We’ll definitely have the most fun,” Heidelinde said. “It’s a testament to the spirit of the people who are involved in the bargaining.”