By Lucy Tate and John Penilla
Writer and activist Monbiot warns, “When someone says they have no politics, it means that their politics align with the status quo.” The Berkeley Forum released a statement March 7, stating that the Berkeley Forum “does not take a side” between workers and the university administration that is exploiting them, referring to a campuswide “Speakers Boycott” called for by AFSCME Local 3299. But when those in power benefit at the expense of workers on this campus, and an institution such as the Berkeley Forum claims neutrality, they are siding with the oppressors.
The status quo, being maintained by the Berkeley Forum’s inaction, is the continuation of labor exploitation wage theft, detestable working conditions, 80-hour work weeks, child labor, breakdown of family time and a lack of benefits and living wages. As a trending, cost-cutting practice on campus, the university pays private companies to outsource labor that performs the same job as UC workers, thereby creating a two-tiered workforce and exploiting the former. Contracted-out workers at LAZ Parking, located across campus, have filed a lawsuit against the company for wages lost that amount to $40,000 in the last eight months alone. Antonio Ruiz, a subcontracted worker, is among those who have been working at the university for more than two decades. Yet, he does not possess a wage even comparable to his UC counterpart. Another private company, ABM, is featured in a PBS documentary, “Rape on the Night Shift,” for the deplorable working conditions it subjects its workers to. Considering the Berkeley Forum’s commitment to hosting events “for the benefit of the campus community,” one must stop to ask, “Who makes up this community?” The Berkeley Forum has assuredly left workers out of its definition.
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[Source]: Daily Californian