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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Guest: Our housing at their cost: A call for student solidarity with UC workers


Students must support AFSCME’s strike

As students have found themselves in desperate need of affordable housing, the university has responded with the Long Range Development Plan, which recommends privatizing the housing process under the guise of cutting costs. This neglects students’ true allies — represented by AFSCME 3299 — who run the UC system: service workers, groundskeepers and custodial staff across the 10 UC campuses.

With the implementation of new housing, there is an opportunity for us to demand not only that these rooms are affordable and environmentally sound, but also that these criteria are met not at the expense of those who are already the least valued by the UC system. Private companies are not required to use unionized UC employees, and therefore these companies get to dictate whether their workers receive a living wage to build and maintain our housing. This private-public partnership is part of a growing trend to outsource jobs that would normally go to workers with benefits and representation under the false justification that it’s the only solution to housing students affordably.  

Interestingly, this privatization push also comes at a time when union workers plan to strike in the name of future job security, increased sexual harassment protections, fair wages and more. Building new housing in Orchard Park and expanding established facilities in West Village seems like a simple numbers game to the UC. In reality, it involves the complex process of employing individuals whose own qualities of life and costs of living need to be considered and held to the same priority as those of the students. Alleviating student debt by outsourcing jobs and thus avoiding accountability is not a just solution to the student housing crisis — it’s just a convenient one for the UC, and it shows that the UC places little to no value on the work that continues to maintain its very infrastructure.  

In addition, the irony of attending a university that applauds itself for serving a diverse population of students while simultaneously employing a less diverse population of workers is striking. One report, which looked at UC payroll and demographic data, shows that the portion of African Americans in the UC Service workforce (i.e., the workers who would normally be responsible for maintaining new campus housing facilities) has dropped by 37 percent over the past 20 years. The report also found that black workers make up a significantly larger share of the workforce at low-wage outsourcing companies.  

Worse than the privatization of projects is the attempt to divide the people who feed their families by mopping UC floors in the middle of the night and the students who pack these same halls, studying in sparkling-clean spaces during the day. ASUCD and UC Davis have both released statements urging AFSCME 3299 to concede and encouraging students to believe that an improved experience at UC Davis requires a poorer quality of life for the workers who support this experience day in and day out.  

Without students, there would be no learning community. But without the workers who maintain the campus infrastructure through their time and labor, all the luxuries of university life that we enjoy — like clean campus grounds, the dining commons, the construction of new buildings and maintenance of student housing — would halt.  If we have any interest in holding the university accountable for injustices against those who make our campus community possible, we must utilize our unique student role to advocate for public projects that employ a local workforce and stand in solidarity with UC workers, beginning with bridging the student-worker divide and supporting their strike. Join fellow students in demanding job security for the worker community and accountability from the UC at AFSCME 3299’s strike on Oct. 23 to 25 at La Rue and Orchard, as well as at the student solidarity rallies on Oct. 23 and 25 at 11:15 a.m. at Shields Library.  


The writer is a third-year transfer student at UC Davis and freelance writer.  


Written by: Raquel Victoria Navarro


Co-signed by:

United Students Against Sweatshops Local 143 at UC Davis

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis

La Familia: Chicanx/Latinx Queer Support Group

La Raza Pre Law Student Association

IGNITE at UC Davis

Muslim Student Association at UC Davis

Students and Workers Ending Racial Violence (SWERV)

Pilipinx in Business and Law

Startuphub at UC Davis

Indian Student Association at UC Davis

Peruvian Student Association at UC Davis

ASUCD Dream Committee

Scholars Promoting Education, Awareness, and Knowledge (SPEAK) at UC Davis

Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities at UC Davis

People for the Elimination of Animal Cruelty Through Education at UC Davis

Peer Education and Community Empowerment at UC Davis

Pan Afro Student Organization at UC Davis


Martin Giron, ASUCD OASR Organizing Director 17-18, SRRC Latinx/Chicanx Retention Coordinator

Destiny Padilla, ASUCD External Vice President 17-18, SRRC Latinx/Chicanx Retention Coordinator

Ellie White, Graduate Student

Bianca Montes, La Raza Pre Law Student Association

Ko Ser Lu Htoo, ASUCD Senator

Kauser Adenwala, External Vice President of Muslim Student Association at UC Davis

Nora Abedelal, Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Vice Chair

Blu Buchanan, Sociology PhD Candidate

Rina Singh, ASUCD Ethnic & Cultural Affairs Commission Chairperson

Haarika Vaddella, ME/SA Community Student Coordinator

Jonina Balabis, ASUCD Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Kimia Akbari, Other Collective, Editor-in-Chief

Alice Beittel, ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission Chair 18-19

Dinika Marwha, Vice President of the Indian Student Association at UC Davis

Kaelan Mikowicz, CA&ES CRU

Nangha Cuadros, Peruvian Student Association President

Jumoke Maraiyesa, ASUCD Senator

Yajaira Ramirez Sigala, ASUCD Senator 17-18, UC Undocumented Student Coalition, Police Accountability Board Student Life Rep

Fatima Garcia, IM Sports Coach for AB540 & Undocumented Student Center Soccer Team

Stephanie Funes, CCC Campus Climate and Community Outreach Coordinator

J’Son Jones, Historical Counselor

Alan Roberson, Communications Counselor, Pan Afro Student Organization

Tiana Williams, Finance Counselor, Pan Afro Student Organization

Eric Banks, Head Counselor, Pan Afro Student Organization

Angel Ballesteros, CCC PEACE Coordinator

Karen Vasquez, CCC PEACE Coordinator

Sage Lauwerys, ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation Former Organizing Director 18-19

Elizabeth Oramas Diaz, Former President of Davis College Democrats

Robert Zuniga, Central American South American & Caribbean Student Alliance

Lois Kim, Former ASUCD Environmental Policy and Planning Commission Chair ’18

Connor Gorman, Associate Instructor


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