UC San Diego’s United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) Local 94 organized demonstrations on Triton Day last Saturday to bring awareness to ongoing labor negotiations between low-wage UC workers and the UC system for fair compensation.
Protesters marched at 11:00 a.m. from Center Hall, through the student organization fair, and into Price Center.
Protesters began at a Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) Q&A session by inquiring about treatment and compensation of HDH workers, spurring whispers and murmurs within the crowd of approximately 300 prospective UCSD students and parents. Protesters began to chant and gather toward the end of the information session and then marched toward Library Walk, eventually gathering outside the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) tent next to the Triton Statue.
“Our message to prospective students was that this is something that is happening that will continue to happen while they’re here and we need to continue to take a stance on it so that members of our community … have support from the students and are able to fight against the institution,” Prajay Lolabattu, Associated Students of UCSD organizing director and UC Student Association campus action committee chair, told The Triton.
Protesters stopped to talk to several prospective students and handed out fliers during the march. They congregated at Price Center, Library Walk, and the student organization fair to give brief speeches. They also put up several posters close to dining halls, including the Oceanview bridge in Marshall College; many dining hall employees working that day expressed support for the strikers when they saw their signs.
While several police officers were already on the scene due to Triton Day, police presence increased near the area where the strikers were protesting. Protesters were also told by university administrators that they were not allowed to stand together and talk, according to Lolabattu.
The demonstration comes just days after a strike by American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) workers in response to the UC system’s intimidation tactics and aggressive treatment of protesters. The strike was the fourth one of the 2018–19 academic year.
Ongoing labor negotiations have been a point of contention for the UC system and AFSCME workers as the workers remain out of contract for the second year. AFSCME Local 3299, representing over 24,000 low-wage workers at UC campuses, claims that the university increased healthcare and retirement premiums while failing to give workers a raise to keep up with the rising cost of living in San Diego.
Vrinda Chauhan is a Staff Writer for The Triton.