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Workers and Students Unite for May Day at UC Santa Cruz
On May 1, workers and students at UC Santa Cruz celebrated International Workers' Day (also called May Day) with rallies, marches, and a visit to the office of UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, where union members with AFSCME hoped to deliver their proposals to open new contracts. "I think we are on the brink of a revolution," commented one student during a discussion group at the afternoon rally at the base of campus. Another student followed with, "I think it has already started," referring to how nationwide, occupy movements are working with workers' organizations.
May Day at UCSC began around noon when approximately 50 students and workers gathered together at Quarry Plaza for a brief rally before marching to Chancellor Blumenthal's office. AFSCME Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, represents 17,000 workers at the University of California. Across the state, AFSCME members delivered proposals to open new contracts to their campus chancellors. At Kerr Hall, outside of Blumental's office, one union member commented that, in the last ten years of similar demonstrations, the chancellor had, "never come out once." When prompted by the crowd, a university representatives said she thought the chancellor was in Sacramento, "trying to campaign for higher education," but a passerby later in the day told demonstrators that they saw him earlier in the Cowell Dining Hall.
Before leaving Kerr Hall, students unveiled the banana slug puppet, and marched to the East side of campus where they hoped to pick up more participants before marching to the base of campus for the afternoon rally.
At the base of campus, students held a group discussion that dealt with a variety of topics, such as "tuition strikes" and "what does a nonviolent revolution look like?" Other topics discussed included student loan debt, the link between the growth of the UCSC upper campus and the proposed desalination plant in Santa Cruz, and the history of International Workers' Day. At this time, students announced they would be organizing weekly "tent universities" to be held at the base of campus and at the Resource Center for Nonviolence.
Near the large discussion group, one instructor held sections for an Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course, and speakers at the afternoon rally spoke on diverse topics. One student spoke about prisoners' rights, and noted that many of the desks that students use at UCSC were made by people incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. A representative from the teaching assistants union at UCSC spoke about how the recent budget cuts were having an effect on her job; TAs are now told to spend no more than 15 minutes grading each paper handed in by students.
After spoken word performances concluded the rally, several dozen students marched down High Street to meet up for the community wide May Day rally held at Friendship Plaza, across from the Santa Cruz Post office.
Though the number of students participating in the events of the day was a relatively small number, UC campus police monitored students fairly closely, and they videotaped the marches during at least two points in the day.
For more information about the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME local 3299, see:
For more information about International Workers' Day, see:
Workers and students hope to speak with UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal at Kerr Hall.
UC police videotaping students near the East Field House.
Ann Simonton was at the UCSC May Day rally, and she also joined the march to downtown Santa Cruz.
Spoken word in front of the Magic Love Bus
A UC Government Official
STRIKE, on High Street.
Marching on High Street.
Police videotape the march from the driveway of High Street Community Church on High Street.
The "front" side of Ann Simonton's sign. Simonton is the founder of Media Watch. For more info, see: http://www.mediawatch.com/
To read more, and view more photos, see:
May Day in Santa Cruz: Creating an Ongoing Network of Solidarity