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Bruins in Paris

UC union workers rally for fair wages on Wilshire, Westwood boulevards

Twenty-six union members sit at the center of the Westwood-Wilshire intersection as hundreds of protesters circle around them. Union members chanted slogans such as “What’s outrageous, poverty wages.” (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin)

By Maanas Hemanth Oruganti, Benjamin Apsley, and Kurtis Yan

April 26, 2022 8:38 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article and its caption misquoted a union chant as “What’s outrageous, property wages.” In fact, the chant was “What’s outrageous, poverty wages.”

This post was updated May 1 at 8:57 p.m.

University of California union members picketed at the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards on Tuesday to call for fair wages and affordable university housing, resulting in 26 arrests. 

The rally began at 1 p.m. in Bruin Plaza, where hundreds of union members met to protest issues including UC efforts to roll back current discrimination and harassment protections. Members from United Auto Workers Local 5810, Student Researchers United-UAW and UAW Local 2865 attended the rally, which was part of a series of rallies held across multiple UC campuses the same day. 

UAW Local 5810 represents postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers at all UC campuses. Student Researchers United-UAW represents UC students in research positions. UAW Local 2865 represents student employees in academic positions, including teaching assistants and tutors.  

Gaby Barrios, the recording secretary of UAW Local 2865, said she believes the UC system has failed to prioritize fair wages for its workers. She added that the unions are calling for better practices in transportation and the environment as well as greater considerations for parenting workers.

“We have not reached a firm agreement on many things, but it is still early in bargaining. However, that’s why it’s a crucial moment right now to show up and show the UC that we mean business,” Barrios said. 

SRU-UAW said in a press release that workers are protesting workplace abuse, discrimination, insufficient compensation and rent burden.

“UC administrators have attempted to claw back important rights and benefits – and have been intransigent on important equity measures,” SRU-UAW said.

Erika Cervantes, a UC Office of the President spokesperson, said in an emailed statement the UC is committed to providing employees with fair wages and a supportive work environment. 

“We respectfully disagree with the union’s assertions about takeaways and UC being intransigent,” Cervantes said. “Our proposals for postdocs and GSRs (graduate student researchers) include annual pay increases and enhanced paid leaves.”

Around 1:30 p.m., protestors marched from Bruin Plaza to the UCLA Health Human Resources office near Wilshire and Westwood boulevard. LAPD officers and bikers with the unions blocked off some of the traffic at all intersections along Westwood Plaza and Westwood Boulevard until and including Wilshire Boulevard. 

Members from the three unions walked together from Bruin Plaza down Westwood Boulevard, passing by the intersection at Kinross Ave (pictured). Protestors held signs that read “Living Wage Now,” and demanded affordable university housing. (Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)

While marching to the intersection, union members held up signs that read “Cut the Rent,” “Fair UC Now!” and “Stop Exploiting Student Workers!”

Throughout the protest, union members chanted slogans such as “What’s outrageous, poverty wages,” “What do we want? Fair contracts,” “No contract, no peace” and “Treat your workers like you should.” 

After reaching Westwood and Wilshire boulevards around 1:55 p.m., 26 union members sat in a circle at the center of the intersection as hundreds of union members walked around the intersection continuing their chants. 

LAPD officers requested protestors disperse around 2:20 p.m. By around 2:50 p.m., dozens of officers in protective gear arrived at the scene and officers began arresting the 26 members sitting in the intersection at approximately 3 p.m. 

Nanni Hernandez, an LAPD spokesperson, said LAPD officers arrested 26 protesters on charges of failure to disperse. She added that officers took the protesters to West Los Angeles Community Police Station.

Around 3:15 p.m., protesters began their return to Bruin Plaza as the rally came to an end.

Contributing reports from Christine Tran, Daily Bruin staff

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Maanas Hemanth Oruganti | Alumnus
Oruganti was the 2021-2022 city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He was also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
Oruganti was the 2021-2022 city and crime editor. He was also the 2020-2021 Enterprise editor and a News staff writer in the City & Crime and Science & Health beats 2020. He was also a fourth-year cognitive science student at UCLA.
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