UC San Diego opens New Labor Research Center in Downtown San Diego

UC San Diego opens New Labor Research Center in Downtown San Diego
Image by Carter Castillo for The UCSD Guardian

A new labor research center operated by UC San Diego opened on April 12 at UCSD’s Park and Market location in downtown San Diego. The center is part of recent legislation from the California state government which allocates $13 million annually to fund labor research and create new labor centers throughout the University of California.

Executive Director of the new labor center Satomi Rash-Ziegler described the purpose of the new research center at the opening ceremony.

“I believe the labor centers that you see embody the idea of turning aspirations, hopes, and visions into tangible impactful change driven and supported by data,” Rash-Ziegler said.

Among the ceremony attendees were community organizers, students, workers, and politicians. 

Former California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins explained the significance of this new victory for the labor movement within San Diego to The UCSD Guardian.

“I remember when San Diego was mostly not labor-friendly,” Atkins said. “The sky’s the limit in terms of research and policy, and San Diego has a lot to share up and down the state with what our model was and how we advance the values and the cause of labor.”

Also speaking at the event was Hector Meza, a business agent for IBEW 569, a union representing electrical workers. Meza emphasized the importance of ensuring fair labor practices and the significance of the new labor center. 

“I don’t want employers to keep taking advantage of residents in Imperial and San Diego counties,” Meza said. “I want people to understand employers need us as much as we need them, but it must be mutually beneficial for both … It makes me feel proud and happy to be here today to support the opening of the UCSD labor center, working to make our dreams for workers a reality.”

While many speakers at the ceremony applauded the opening of the labor research center, some expressed hope for the center’s eventual placement at UCSD’s main campus.

Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, the executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, was one of those people.

“[The labor center] is not staying [downtown] because we need this on UCSD’s campus,” she said during her speech. 

“We need to build leaders of the next century who understand the struggle of working folks,” Gonzalez-Fletcher added. “One day we’re going to be on that campus of UCSD and fight hard to make sure that every student understands the power of the union.”

The event was a universal celebration of the collaborative efforts of workers, organizers, and policymakers coming together to create the new research center.

Rash-Ziegler concluded her speech at the opening ceremony by underscoring her aspirations for the new center.

“I have lived and breathed the labor movement for my entire adult life, and this is the reason why my dream for workers and my dream for all human beings on this planet is that we can all live in dignity and respect,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Carter Castillo
Carter Castillo, News Editor
Second year Comparative Politics Major and passionate student journalist. Proud owner of a 2012 Toyota Prius.
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