ACLU Joins CA Community Leaders In Hunger Strike to Support Job Security of University Workers

May 21, 1999 12:00 am

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Friday, May 21, 1999

LOS ANGELES, CA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California today joined community leaders in a hunger strike in support of a union leader’s struggle to obtain a written guarantee of job security at the University of Southern California.

On Thursday, Maria Elena Durazo, president of Local 11 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, completed an eleven day hunger-strike to draw attention to the union’s four-year-old fight for job security for cafeteria workers and janitors at the University.

The ACLU, along with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Advancement Project, Office Of the Americas, and the former UAW Western Director, has pledged to take up the hunger strike, each agreeing to go one day with only water.

“This is a matter of principle, a matter of simple economic justice,” said ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Ramona Ripston. “We stand in solidarity with Maria and all of the members of Local 11 who continue to demand fairness and justice from the university.”

The union is demanding that the university pledge, in writing, that it will not hire outside contractors to perform the jobs now handled by 360 union employees. The workers’ contract expired in 1995, and despite the fact that the university and the union agreed on nearly all terms of a renewal, a new contract has not been signed because the university will not agree to subcontracting services.

“It’s critically important that the rights of workers are protected by providing some measure of security in agreements between the university and its employees,” said Beatriz Lopez Flores, vice-president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “We recognize and are very appreciative of Maria’s dedication to achieving this goal.”

Prominent actor and activist Edward Asner added his own statement of support: “If the ivory tower cannot render fair employment conditions to those workers on its lower rungs, can we actually call it a center of intelligent learning? Bravo, Maria! May your hardship produce results for your people who in turn are our people.”

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