Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced Monday she will boycott the UC Berkeley graduation ceremony, where she was scheduled to deliver the keynote speech, due to a massive union-backed labor strike that forced the rescheduling of over 12,000 surgeries, cancer treatments, and appointments.
Harris tweeted, “If we are going to live up to our ideals as a nation, it’s critical we focus on economic equality and economic justice. One key is making sure everyone has access to a good job, with fair wages, and safe working conditions.”
If we are going to live up to our ideals as a nation, it’s critical we focus on economic equality and economic justice. One key is making sure everyone has access to a good job, with fair wages, and safe working conditions.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 7, 2018
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, campus chancellor Carol Christ will address the nearly 6,000-strong graduating study body in Harris’s place at Cal’s Memorial Stadium Saturday morning.
UC Berkeley announced Monday: “We regretfully share the news that, after much consideration, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris has decided not to speak at Saturday’s commencement ceremony at UC Berkeley due to a UC-wide speaker boycott called by AFSCME Local 3299.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “thousands of service workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME, walked off the job at all 10 UC campuses Monday in protest of what they said was the University of California’s practice of hiring contractors and displacing longtime employees.”
The unions are reportedly demanding a multiyear contract with annual pay raises of 6%, no increase in healthcare premiums and continued full pension benefits at the retirement age of 60.
The Los Angeles Times noted that the walkout will likely expand on Tuesday with two other unions joining in on the strikes. “About 14,000 members of the California Nurses Assn., who work at UC’s medical centers and student health clinics, are set to walk off their jobs, along with 15,000 members of the University Professional & Technical Employees, who include pharmacists, clinical social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants and researchers,” wrote the Times.