UC Davis students and employees to gather to protest against union busting

The Davis chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is holding a protest against union busting and privatization on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m.

AFSCME, a union that has over 179,000 members in California, hopes to get students and employees involved in the workers’ fight against union busting.

Protest organizers say that UC executives are spending millions of dollars on a union busting law firm and are forcing union leaders to return to their UC jobs instead of representing the workers full time.

Kase Wheatley, sophomore undeclared major, said that AFSCME is working to get the word out about the union busting law firm.

“The UC system has actually hired one of the premiere union busting firms in the country to basically break up the unions on campus,” Wheatley said.

The protest, which will be held on the corner of La Rue Road and Russell Boulevard, comes during a time of political unrest across the globe regarding unions’ right to collective bargaining.

“They’re all connected, it’s happening all over the world. It’s happening with riots and protests in Tunisia and Egypt, and all the way to the United States,” Wheatley said.

Another goal of the protest is to get students and workers to come together to achieve their goals on campus.

“It could potentially be a really good opportunity for students to start more of a dialogue with employees on campus, because that’s sort of a bond on campus that we’re lacking that other public universities have. The combined support really increases any opportunity to get a message across,” said Elizabeth Lara, a senior nature and culture major.

This protest comes in the wake of the March 2 Day of Action protest, where students and union members alike gathered to fight for the right to free education and against the privatization of the UC system.

The protest also follows the discovery of an “Activist Response Team,” a group of police officials and administrators that work to watch protests that was established in August 2010. A member of this group was allegedly present at the March 2 Day of Action.

UC Davis spokesperson Claudia Morain declined to comment when asked if the Activist Response Team would attend the March 16 protest, but did say that UC Davis supports peaceful protesting.

“UC Davis respects the importance and rights of expressing views. Peaceful protests are a part of college life,” Morain said.

HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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