Jack Crosbie
Staff Writer

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations will host an open rally in support of workers’ rights today at noon in Storke Plaza.

The demonstration is part of a nationwide Day of Action held by the AFL-CIO in protest of legislation recently passed by the Wisconsin state legislature that includes anti-collective bargaining laws. The day will include various demonstrations across the country to unite students and unions in honor of the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Julian Posadas, vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and UC Santa Cruz food service worker, said the rally will call attention to various threats against workers’ rights.

“It goes back to Wisconsin — how that has had a ripple effect throughout the nation,” Posadas said. “The attack on public employees is already on this campus. It is in California.”

Posadas said AFSCME is actively seeking proactive solutions to budgetary issues.

“We have been trying to have better relationships with the UC Board of Regents,” Posadas said. “The decisions they’ve been making have been completely disconnected with what is going on campus.”

According to Zenaida Perez Fuentes, United States Student Association community and labor liaison, said the rally will allow students to support workers’ issues.

“It should be something that students should stand up and fight for with the workers,” Fuentez, a fourth-year global and Chican@ studies major, said. “Student issues and workers’ issues intertwine. We want to increase awareness, but it doesn’t stop there … [We need] to find ways to become informed and actually take action.”

Posadas said today will be an opportunity to share ideas and show solidarity between two groups facing similarly dire financial circumstances.

“Every action or rally is a way for us to network,” Posadas said. “We use these events to identify other leaders in the community that we can follow up with. We want to provide and organize these spaces and opportunities so we can build, can grow.”

Furthermore, Jaret Ornelas, community labor coordinator for the Associated Students External Vice President for Local Affairs Office, said coordination between students and workers is essential to both groups.

“People won’t listen otherwise,” Ornelas, a fourth-year Spanish and Chican@ studies major, said. “In the university setting, if the workers are trying to get something done and trying to raise initiative, the university has a lot more pressure on it if students are on the union’s side. That’s what Monday is all about.”

Ornelas said he hopes the Day of Action will show state executives that labor unions are not to blame for California’s economic difficulties.

“We want to fight back against the negative image that the service workers are the ones bankrupting the state,” Ornelas said.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider are expected to attend the event.