Friday, June 13, 2008

General Clark Stands with AFSCME

Retired General Wesley Clark is the latest of a growing group of speakers to take a stand in support of AFSCME members and cancel their scheduled appearance at UCLA’s commencement ceremonies this weekend unless 20,000 UC workers receive of a fair contract. Former President Bill Clinton confirmed his cancellation on Tuesday and was joined by Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Congressman Henry Waxman who were also scheduled at UCLA this weekend. Students, workers and community supporters are planning to picket at commencement ceremonies across the state this weekend.

"I am disappointed that I will not be able to be a commencement speaker, but I won't cross the picket line. The students who are graduating, along with their parents who support them should be congratulated on their achievement. My hope is this dispute will come to a resolution very soon," Clark said.

The 20,000 patient care and service workers do everything from assisting in surgeries to cleaning dorm rooms in the
University of California’s ten campus/five hospital system. They have been negotiating for a fair contract since August, 2007, and 96% of UC service workers are low-income eligible for at least one of the following public assistance programs: food stamps, WIC, public housing subsidies, and reduced lunch. Many work 2-3 jobs to meet their families’ basic needs. This is contributing to high-turnover, staffing shortages, and over-reliance on temps which can affect patient care as extra time is needed to train the constant flow of new staff.

Graduations at other UC campuses have also been affected by this show of solidarity with UC workers, including Speaker Emeritus of the California Assembly Fabian Núñez’s cancellation on Wednesday at UC Davis. Robert Kennedy Jr., Assemblyman John Laird, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Angela Davis and many notable professors have also pledged to cancel unless the contract is settled. This represents speakers at nearly all UC campuses where graduations are scheduled.

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