In a unified campaign for immigrant laborer rights, local union members have joined forces with student and staff organizations to celebrate the May 1 celebration of International Workers’ and Immigrants Rights Day.
Events leading up to the celebration began on April 23, with a forum designed to engage staff, faculty, students and community members in a dialogue about current immigrant rights issues. Created to recognize the efforts of Chicago laborers who led an eight-hour walkout in 1886, International Workers and Immigrants Rights Day was preceded today by a communal hug in front of Davidson Library.
Many campus laborers are utilizing the May Day holiday to discuss their concerns about local labor rights. At noon yesterday, students, faculty and staff gathered about the front entrance of the Davidson Library and engaged in a symbolic “hug.” Bill Quirk, director of communications and education and University Council American Federation of Teachers local 2141 UCSB field representative, said ‘Hug the Library’ was intended as a campuswide event to heighten public knowledge about the effects of budget cuts on the university community.
“The library is a symbol of what we are doing here,” Quirk said. “It is a major, central location, both physically and in terms of its delivery of education. It represents learning and the mission of undergraduate education.”
Julian Posadas, member, organizer and executive vice president for American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Chapter 3299, said last year’s May Day celebration was a great success due to increased student involvement.
According to Edwin Quintanilla, a second-year sociology major and member of the Salvadoran Student Union, the May Day celebration is a worthy tribute to immigrant workers and especially important in today’s political atmosphere.
“[The] common ground of immigrant rights is even more relevant after the [U.S. presidential] elections,” Quintanilla said.
Quirk said the salaries of UC librarians already trail that of community college and California State University librarians by 15 to 30 percent. With nearly 60 percent of UC undergraduate classes taught by non-tenured lecturers, he said, recent cuts to university funding are hurting the services that most directly benefit students.
According to Paul Desruisseaux, assistant vice chancellor of Public Affairs, these budget concerns are constantly being evaluated by university officials and strategies to benefit the campus may be forthcoming.
“The campus Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy has been staging a series of meetings with vice chancellors and deans,” Desruisseaux said. “They are anticipating the state budget being revisited and passed down. This is all in process right now.”
Pete Villarreal, director of the Educational Opportunity Program, said the trickle-down effect of sticky Sacramento budget affairs – which has recently reduced some of EOP’s staff – will result in a decrease in the quantity, and, in the long run, the quality of their services.
Today, concerned individuals in the local community will once again meet at noon in the Arbor and form a circle in the crowded breezeway. Speakers will then open the rally and remind onlookers of the past history of May Day and the future actions that must be taken to ensure immigrant’s labor rights.
According to Posadas, marchers will then walk to the UCen, proceed to El Centro, then conclude at Cheadle Hall, where a union worker will revisit his struggles and provide a chance for others to speak out.
“May Day has become a day of consciousness. … A lot of issues come forward,” Posadas said. “The march on campus brings awareness to labor issues at the university. It brings things out to the public and plugs them in. I think we’ll have a good turn out.”