Tuesday, March 31

Mayim Bialik declines to speak at commencement, cites support of AFSCME

(Creative Commons photo by iDominick via Wikimedia Commons)

Actress Mayim Bialik announced on Twitter on Thursday afternoon that she will not be speaking at the commencement ceremony for the College of Letters and Sciences.

Bialik said she declined to speak at the ceremony to support the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents University of California service workers such as custodians, nurses and food service workers. The union has not yet reached a contract agreement with the UC and held a strike from May 7 to 9 after negotiating for a six percent annual wage increase for more than a year.

In the announcement, Bialik said labor issues are important to her because her grandparents were sweatshop workers and her parents were civil rights activists. She added her Jewish identity also influenced her decision.

“My Jewish tradition is clear that it is of the utmost importance to treat workers fairly and to protect employees from injustice,” she said. “The Talmud states that these make for a just and godly society.”

AFSCME Local 3299 has called on speakers to boycott UC commencements. Earlier this month, Congressman Ted Lieu pulled out of the UCLA School of Law’s commencement and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris declined to speak at UC Berkeley’s commencement.


Managing editor

Pauker is the managing editor. She was previously an assistant news editor for the City beat and a reporter for the City beat.

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  • PC487

    Nothing like using the day people have worked 4 years or more to reach for your own political gain. The students have nothing to do with the labor dispute. The union should be ashamed, but you know they’re not.

    • silverlakesoccer

      Because having a celebrity at your graduation ceremony is so much more important than whether janitors can afford to take their children to the doctor. I mean, you haven’t had to think about them as human beings the last four years while they cleaned your bathrooms, why should you have to think about them now?

      • PC487

        And the students have something to do with a labor dispute . . . how exactly? Or demanding speakers boycott commencements furthers your goals . . . how exactly? That’s like putting your kid on time out when your dog gets into the trash. Ridiculous.

        • SinPatron

          The students are involved bc they too are subjected to the whim and capriciousness of regents who act more like kings. The regents have been giving themselves raises and cutting our salaries. All the while giving themselves ridiculous raises and bonses. Student tuition is soaring while these plutocrats ride the luxury liner funded by the public.

          and maybe just maybe the students have a conscious and they believe that UC is not a vested partner in the community.

          I encourage you to speak with some of the workers to better understand our fight. And perhaps talk to the students who bravely stood along side us during our picket line.

          • PC487

            So you encourage speakers not to speak before the students on their day? Pure ridiculousness. You cannot, in all seriousness, think that the union demanding speakers boycott commencements in any way BENEFITS students. If students want to protest, that’s fine. If speakers want to speak in favor of your position, that’s fine. Want to buy tickets and shout down the chancellor, that’s fine too. I don’t know much about your demands, nor do I really care, I do know, however, that you’re barking up the wrong tree because the boycott you’re calling for is against the wrong people. Think about who it’s actually against and who it effects. It’s not the Regents nor the administration.

          • SinPatron

            you failed to address how the regents control our salaries and the students tuition. The people who said no to speaking at commencement did it as a way of standing up to said plutocrats. When mlk boycotted the buses were you feeling sorry for the bus companies losing money? No of course not that is the point of a boycott.

          • PC487

            So you equate students with bus companies. Who cares who you harm, even people you think are sympathetic to your cause, so long as you get your way, eh? People like you disgust me. To be clear, this was not about students being sympathetic, it’s about the union calling for a boycott that only harms the students.

          • SinPatron

            Are you even a student?

        • silverlakesoccer

          The students have nothing to do with the labor dispute? These are the workers who fed them, cleaned their dorms and classrooms etc. the whole time they were at school. Many of the students (many of whose parents have similar jobs) absolutely feel a responsibility towards how the workers are treated and are willing to give up celebrity speakers in order to support their struggle (and have signed a pledge supporting the boycott). Your analogy is beyond bizarre.

          • PC487

            Not surprising you wouldn’t understand the analogy, so here it is spelled out explicitly. Commencement is for the students as evidenced by the family, friends and loved ones of the students who come to commencement to celebrate with and for them. It is not a day for the Regents or administration. How you can justify punishing the students on a day that is FOR THEM, when they have absolutely zero control over the working conditions, benefits or compensation for the union is beyond comprehension. I understand, though, grandstanding and using one of the biggest days of someone’s lives for political gain, aka, pure selfishness, is pretty par for the course with people like you. If the students feel solidarity with the union, it should be their choice to protest. Cal students turned their back on their chancellor at the commencement in protest, for instance. Speakers could speak for or against the union, if they like. I have absolutely no problem with any of that. A group of people encouraging people to boycott students who have zero control over the union demands is childish.

  • Colonel Reb

    When was the last time that UCLA undergrad or law school invited a keynote graduation speaker who was not a card-carrying leftist? In a campus imbued with a passion for “diversity,” when was the last time the school invited diversity of thought?