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
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
CENSOCA 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