Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Student protest over janitor negotations leads to 17 arrests

February 25, 2010

ORLANDO, FL — A sit-in protest at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) over what some students are calling "exploitative labor practices" for campus janitors led to the arrest of 17 students and a temporary shut down of an administrative building, according to The Orange County Register.

According to the story, protesters sat in front of UCI Chancellor Michael Drake''s office and distributed a list of demands, some of which were related to a recent contract negotiation breakdown between the college and the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents janitors on campus.

The union was trying to "insource" custodial and maintenance jobs, currently contracted to ABM Janitorial, but talks stalled after UCI said they wanted to check the citizenship of workers, the story stated.

University spokesperson Cathy Lawhon said: "There''s a requirement that university employees have a background check. If you were not in the country legally, that would come up."
Those arrested included 14 students and three workers, who were all charged with suspicion of unlawful assembly after they blocked the entrance to the building — which was closed and evacuated due to the protest — and knocked over two dumpsters and blocked traffic, the story noted.
The demands of the student protesters also included more financial aid for lower income and undocumented students and the elimination of what protesters consider a "institutional and systematic discrimination" of minority and underrepresented students, the story added.
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