Chancellors Eject SEJ

Members of Students for Economic Justice demanded a place on the agenda of the Chancellor’s Associates meeting last Tuesday. They are attempting to direct the attention of Chancellor Robert C. Dynes and the UCSD community to the situation of the ununionized janitors subcontracted by UCSD.

David Pilz
Guardian

Prior to the meeting, SEJ members asked for time in the meeting’s agenda and were advised by Senior Director of External Relations Edgar Gillenwaters that the meeting was not an appropriate venue to air the group’s demands.

The students then joined hands in a single-file line and attempted to enter the meeting.

Chanting “”no justice, no peace,”” several students entered the tent where the meeting was held and addressed the audience. The group was quickly escorted out by security officials and members of the meeting.

Ten minutes later, two police cars arrived on the scene and advised SEJ members to leave.

A lectern near the tent’s entrance was knocked down and an SEJ member became entangled in the tent’s fabric as a result of the resistance the group encountered while attempting to enter the tent.

Eleazar Loza, a Warren freshman, managed to enter the tent.

Loza enumerated the goals of the SEJ.

Her main demand was that the subcontractor that supplies UCSD with its janitors, Bergenson’s Property Services, rehire Alejandra Rodriguez.

Rodriquez was allegedly fired for attempting to unionize her co-workers.

Other goals of the SEJ include ensuring that the contractor pays a “”living wage”” of $11.24 an hour. The group wants the contractor to supply workers with health insurance and allow the workers the right to organize unions.

The group decided to enter the tent in which the meeting was held due to the lack of attention Dynes gave their demands and suggestions.

Renee Maas cited the failure of Dynes and administrators Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs Steven Relyea and Physical Plant Services Supervisor of Janitorial Services John Stevenso to respond to the SEJ’s letters, faxes and e-mails as evidence of the administration’s indifference to the group’s demands.

In her brief conversation with Dynes outside the meeting, Maas asked Dynes for a guarantee that he would meet with members of SEJ to address their grievances.

Dynes insisted that he must wait until the vice chancellor returns from his absence so that Dynes may be briefed upon the situation involving Rodriguez and the janitors.

“”You must wait until he comes back so that we can have a meaningful discussion,”” Dynes said. “”I want to be informed so that this is not just a fencing match.””

Dynes also acknowledged that he had recently been out of town, making it hard to guarantee a meeting with SEJ members before the end of the school year.

Dynes also said that the students “”won’t advance the case by being [at the meeting], but by my pushing the vice chancellor.””

Several members of SEJ expressed surprise and dismay at the high level of physical resistance they allegedly encountered as they entered the tent.

According to Catherine Medrano, the group was physically barred from entering the tent “”with such aggression.””

“”I didn’t think they’d come off as so aggressive,”” Medrona said. “”Their hands were on me, and I felt like I was being squished.””

SEJ member Fatima Padojino also gained entry to the tent and described the audience as “”attentive”” and noted that “”they were definitely looking at us with interest.””

Maas said he supports the actions of the SEJ members and that he believes that the group’s presence at the Chancellor’s Associates meeting was necessary in order to make their point.

“”I feel that this was the appropriate action to take,”” Maas said. “”The same issues and problems that the janitors are facing now happened here two years ago. I believe being here today made sure that our point was heard.””

Members of SEJ offered Dynes the date of Wednesday, May 30 as the last day for him to offer a response to their demands.

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