North Westwood Neighborhood Council recap – Dec. 7
By Isabella Sharp
Dec. 9, 2022 10:11 a.m.
This post was updated Jan. 16 at 10:13 p.m.
The North Westwood Neighborhood Council gathered on Wednesday for their monthly general meeting, which is held over Zoom and is open to the public. The NWWNC is the official neighborhood council representing Westwood Village and UCLA to the Los Angeles City Council.
Comments by public officials:
- Janet Turner, a representative of Congressman Ted Lieu, provided an update on the congressman’s work, including a national defense act he implemented, which will allow federal funds to go directly to the West LA Veterans Affairs Medical Center rather than through the treasury, thus making them more easily accessible. She also reminded the council that Lieu will be shifting to represent California’s 36th district beginning Jan. 3.
- Jack Zhu with UCLA Government and Community Relations summarized the United Auto Workers’ strike progress, saying that it has lasted four weeks and UCLA has yet to reach satisfactory negotiation.
- The council also discussed its election process in light of all members being up for re-election in May, and heard from Paola Posada and Shawna Dungo, election administrators with the Office of the City Clerk. They added that the budget for a hybrid council election was approved by the mayor’s office, and they are currently attempting to secure neighborhood polling locations.
- Carmen O’Brien, a UCLA representative, discussed the success of the monthly First Thursday celebrations as well as how the ice skating rink from December’s event could become an annual tradition.
- Eliana Sisman, a general representative on UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council, brought up the importance of supporting striking academic workers and expressed dismay at how little they are paid. She also mentioned UCLA administrators’ misconduct toward disabled workers, citing alleged incidents in which employees were instructed to withhold accommodations, and the disproportionately high rate at which disabled workers quit.
- Steven Sann expressed enthusiasm for the success of a book sale at a local library Jan. 3 and its high turnout rate. He also told the council about a new series starting in February called “Second Saturday,” during which people can play the piano at the end of the day.
- The majority of the meeting was spent discussing the council’s possible support for a resolution urging UCLA administrators to encourage fair strike bargaining, as well as a proposal to dedicate a public square in Westwood to the Iranian women’s movement.
- The council debated the viability of the resolution and heard public comments before passing a motion that approved the resolution, voicing the NWWNC’s support for the strike. Wren Reynolds, an administrative member, read the resolution aloud and provided background on the details of the strike as well as the goals of academic workers, which are to secure better pay and resources. Catherine Sarkisian, a faculty member, said many of her fellow teachers off campus are upset about how undergraduate students are being taken advantage of by graduate students who don’t make full use of their grants. She also pointed out that the University of California is negotiating and has already met demands such as child support and transit access, with two tentative contracts awaiting approval.
- Members of the public argued that the strike occurred in the first place because the UC was not responding to previous demands, citing the 20 charges of unfair labor practices that have been filed against the UC. Garret May, a graduate student researcher, said academic workers are paid $23,000 per year, over 50% of which goes to paying rent. Sann then questioned why strikers have not reached out to California legislators for support and whether their requested pay rate would turn the payment from a stipend into a salary. Several members of the public responded by saying that being an academic worker is a full-time job that deserves a salary, and efforts have been made in the past to work with legislators and the UC.
- Amir Angha, a community member, proposed three locations in Westwood for the installation of a plaque honoring the female uprising in Iran. The locations proposed were at Weyburn and Broxton, Westwood and Kinross, and Le Conte and Westwood. If approved, the next step in the plan would include the installation of an art piece in the designated square. The presenters pointed to the large Iranian population in LA and at UCLA as a major reason why the dedication should be placed in Westwood Village. Sann urged the council to wait on approving the proposal. Nolan Gray, the council’s secretary, expressed his support for the proposal and said the Iranian movement is a relevant issue that reflects the community of Westwood.
- After more debate, the council ultimately chose not to pass the motion to approve the project, but passed a second motion which will present the proposal to the land use committee, where it will undergo further evaluation.