Westwood and Wilshire protest takes place April 26
By Dolores Quintana
The intersection of Wilshire and Westwood was the site of a protest by University of California workers and union members on April 26, 2022, as reported by the Daily Bruin. Workers protested to demand fair wages and affordable housing at the university. 26 people were arrested during the rally and protest.
The protest began at Bruin Plaza at 1:00 p.m. when hundreds of union members rallied to speak out against the efforts of the Unversity of California system to cancel current discrimination and harassment protections for workers. The United Auto Workers Local 5810, UAW Local 2865 and Student Researchers United-UAW were represented by their members at the rally, which was part of a larger protest organized by the unions at multiple UC campuses on the same day.
The Student Researchers United-UAW union represents UC students who do research at UC colleges and universities. UAW Local 5810 represents academic researchers and postdoctoral scholars on all UC campuses. UAW Local 2865 represents student employees who hold academic positions at UC campuses which include teaching assistants and tutors.
Recording Secretary of UAW Local 2865, Gabby Barrios, said that she believes that the UC system hasn’t prioritized fair wages for its workers. She noted that the unions want there to better practice at the UC schools in transportation, environmental issues and more attention to the issues facing workers who are parents. Barrios said, “We have not reached a firm agreement on many things, but it is still early in bargaining. However, that’s why it’s a crucial moment right now to show up and show the UC that we mean business.” as quoted by the Daily Bruin.
A press release from SRU-UAW said that their members are protesting against workplace abuse, discrimination, non-equitable compensation for their work and rent burdens.
In the statement, quoted by the Daily Bruin, “UC administrators have attempted to claw back important rights and benefits – and have been intransigent on important equity measures.”
The spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, Erika Cervantes, said in an email statement that the UC is committed to providing employees with fair wages and a supportive work environment.
Cervantes’ statement read, as quoted by the Daily Bruin, “We respectfully disagree with the union’s assertions about takeaways and UC being intransigent. Our proposals for postdocs and GSRs (graduate student researchers) include annual pay increases and enhanced paid leaves.”
At 1:30 p.m, the rally became a march as the protesters walked from Bruin Plaza to the UCLA Health Human Resources off at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards.
Marching union members held up signs that said, “Cut the Rent,” “Fair UC Now!” and “Stop Exploiting Student Workers!” and chanted slogans like “What’s outrageous, poverty wages,” “What do we want? Fair contracts,” “No contract, no peace” and “Treat your workers like you should.” as quoted by the Daily Bruin.
Some of the traffic that normally would be flowing into the intersections nearby was blocked by the LAPD and union bikers.
When the marchers reached Wilshire and Westwood at 1:55 p.m., 26 union members continued the protest by sitting in a circle in the center of the Wilshire and Westwood intersection and refused to leave. The rest of the protesters continued to march around the intersection and chant.
The LAPD issued an order to disperse at 2:20 p.m. and at 2:50 p.m. dozens of police in protective gear appeared and started to arrest the protesters in the intersection who refused to leave at around 3:00 p.m.
An LAPD spokesperson, Nanni Hernandez, said that the LAPD arrested 26 protestors and charged them with failure to disperse as quoted by the Daily Bruin. The LAPD took the protesters to the West Los Angeles Community Police Station.
The rest of the protesters left the scene around 3:15 p.m. and returned to Bruin Plaza according to the Daily Bruin.