Tuesday, August 21

Union calls strike a success


The strike on Thursday held by the American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees resulted in the closure of multiple
dorm dining halls and a decrease in sales at outlets of the
Associated Students of UCLA.

On Thursday, workers were hired from a temporary employment
agency to ensure that food services in the dorms and on campus
would remain open and able to service the UCLA community.

But because most of the dorm dining hall workers went on strike,
Hedrick dining hall, Puzzles, Crossroads and My Pizza were
closed.

Students that did choose to eat in the dining halls ate on
disposable dishes, used disposable silverware, and had fewer menu
choices than usual.

The strike was only scheduled for Thursday, and on Friday AFSCME
workers at the UC campuses resumed work.

A majority of the 2,000 UCLA AFSCME members participated in the
strike, which lasted from 5 a.m. until midnight Thursday.

“The strike was incredibly successful; people participated
at incredible numbers and the solidarity support from clerical
workers and technologists and registered nurses was incredible as
well,” said Nicole Moore, an AFSCME organizer for Local
3299.

The bargaining process between the UC and AFSCME has been
ongoing since July 2004 and is currently awaiting recommendations
from a neutral fact finder.

“Our goal has always been to bargain fairly for a fair
contract for our service employees. The strike has no effect on
what our positions are,” said Noel Van Nyhuis, a spokesman
for the UC Office of the President.

“The university is doing anything it can on its side of
the bargaining table to try to bring movement toward a settlement.
It is really all we can offer right now. It is up to the union as
well. We are glad our service workers are back to work,” Van
Nyhuis said.

There are 7,300 AFSCME members at the nine University of
California campuses, five medical centers and the Lawrence Berkeley
lab.

UCLA AFSCME members work in the residential dining and housing
services and the Associated Students of UCLA restaurants.

In the UCLA Medical Center, they work as security guards,
custodians and cafeteria staff.

Many students and members of the UCLA community say they
supported the strike by going into Westwood instead of eating at
UCLA eateries.

“I felt like it was a very educational experience for me
and I got to learn about their perspective and appreciate more what
they do,” said Ronnie Seese, a second-year neuroscience
student who chose to eat dinner in Westwood.

“It was an inconvenience, but that’s the point of a
strike, right? So you realize how much you need them,” he
said.

Michael Foraker, the director of UCLA Housing & Hospitality
Services, could not be reached for comment regarding how dining
halls and residential halls were affected.

ASUCLA reported that it was negatively affected by
Thursday’s strike.

The student association had planned a sale months in advance to
occur Thursday, and the timing of the strike diminished the amount
of sales ASUCLA expected to see that day.

According to the daily sales report for Thursday, ASUCLA
expected to earn over $230,000 in revenue throughout its stores,
but the association fell short of its goal by almost $13,000.

Though there was a minor financial loss on the day of the
strike, it could happen on other days even if there was not a
strike, said Bob Williams, the interim executive director for the
association, at Friday’s finance committee meeting.

“I suspect we could have done considerably more if there
wasn’t a strike,” Williams said.

The association could not change the date of the sale as it had
already produced advertisements stating the sale would occur that
day.

Though ASUCLA is a separate entity from the university, the
association must pay and provide benefits for its career workers,
about 80 of which are also a part of AFSCME, said Jerry Mann,
director of Student Support Services and Ackerman Student
Union.

Other businesses, such as some Westwood restaurants, reported
more customers than usual Thursday night because of students who
did not want to cross picket lines.

“The strike affected us for the good. There was a flow of
people down to Westwood,” said Agustin Muralidharan, a server
at Damon and Pythias who was relaying his manager’s
comments.

Not all restaurants saw an increase in customers on Thursday,
such as Denny’s and Enzo’s Pizzeria.

“Our business was pretty normal,” said Lenny
Montana, the owner of Enzo’s.

The UCLA Medical Center was also affected by the strike, and
approximately 150 workers in the hospital and the Geffen School of
Medicine who were scheduled for work did not show up, said Roxanne
Moster, a spokeswoman for UCLA Health Sciences.

Temporary workers were hired for Thursday to ensure that the
hospital provided its usual services, Moster said, adding,
“Managers had planned carefully leading up to the strike to
ensure that patient care and safety would not be
compromised.”

There are no additional strikes planned, but AFSCME workers have
said that if a contract is not reached soon, they would be willing
to have another one.

“More than a dozen people have said that if (the UC)
doesn’t move, can we do a two-day strike next? If the UC
doesn’t pay attention for one day, there will be more actions
and possible work actions planned,” Moore said.

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