Despite initial approval from ASUCD senate and a vote to override ASUCD President Jack Zwald’s veto, an override to pass Senate Bill 53 – a bill now evoking controversy and dialogue – failed with a 7-5 vote.
If passed, the bill would have allocated $580 from Senate Reserves to five UC Davis students to help pay for airfare to attend last weekend’s Farmworker Freedom March in Florida.
Without the $580 allocation from ASUCD, students who attended the three-day march will be responsible for covering additional expenses themselves.
Last Thursday, Zwald vetoed the bill with an accompanying letter stating that he did not feel the Senate members “fully understood the ramifications” of it. His letter argued that passing Senate Bill 53 would set a precedent for all bills that are fiscally sound and legal to be passed, even if ASUCD disagreed with its motive.
“It’s important to note that other senate bills like this have been passed before,” said Abrham Castillo-Ruiz, co-author of Senate Bill 53. Ruiz referred to a senate bill passed last school year which allocated funds for postage to help send supplies to UC Davis alumni serving in Iraq.
ASUCD has $12,000 in senate reserves each year to allocate to students who address ASUCD with their financial needs. So far, there is roughly $10,000 unused senate reserves. If the money is not used, it will be moved to capital reserves, a reserve intended to fund only projects that will last two or more years.
“We exhausted all avenues of fundraising before going to ASUCD,” said Liz Fitzgerald, Village Harvest Davis team leader and Freedom Farmworker March attendee. The students financed the trip with the help of a contribution from UCD Sodexo.
UCD students representing Students for Sustainable Agriculture, MEChA de UC Davis and the Tri Co-op participated in the Coalition of Immokalee Worker’s (CIW) Farmworker Freedom March. The 22-mile march from Lakeland to Tampa, Florida protested Publix, Florida’s largest super market chain, which protesters feel has failed to adopt the principles for the Campaign for Fair Food.
“I felt we had a responsibility to support CIW at such a big event,” said Castillo-Ruiz.
The CIW rallies to help farm workers earn an additional $0.01 per pound of tomatoes picked.
Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King and Subway have all adopted the CIW’s principles, and nationwide food service providers are to follow suit.
The one cent per pound increase could help workers earn 40 to 70 percent more, said Philip Martin, UC Davis professor of agricultural and resource economics in an interview with the Associated Press.
Sodexo, a multinational corporation that supplies food services and facilities management at UC Davis, has committed to paying farm workers an additional $0.01 per pound of tomatoes and to purchasing from producers who meet the code of conduct.
Sodexo is currently deliberating with CIW to determine the best method of payment to ensure the $0.01 raise reaches farm workers directly, said Brenan Connolly, general manager of resident dining.
UC Davis Sodexo purchases 1 percent of its tomatoes from Florida, buying the remainder from California and from Mexico in the off-season.
Connolly and UC Davis Sodexo will team up with Fitzgerald this spring to bring awareness of farm workers’ conditions to campus dining halls.
GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.