ABM WORKERS AT UCI IN CRISIS! HELP SAVE THEIR JOBS!

Via online petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/savejobs/petition.html

On Wednesday (4/28/2010), UCI administrators in an act of naked duplicity sent the campus community a mass email in which they proclaimed the insourcing of the ABM workers. This is part of a public relations battle, waged by UCI’s administrators, intended to misinform and demobilize support for the ABM insourcing campaign. Rather than insourcing (directly hiring) the ABM workers, the University is merely internalizing a handful of the positions presently occupied by the ABM workers. Upon a closer reading of the email, it should be clearly understood that the University is NOT guaranteeing current ABM workers a position at UCI. They open their email with:

UC Irvine custodial workers, currently employed under a
contract outsourced to ABM Industries, will receive priority
applicant status in upcoming recruitments for positions in
the Student Center, recycling, and other locations.

This is an intentional act of rhetorical treachery. This is NOT insourcing the ABM workers. Insourcing the ABM workers means the direct hiring of these workers by the University. Their aim is to circumvent negotiations regarding the structuring of the insourcing process being carried out by both the current ABM workers’ committee leading the insourcing campaign and AFSCME, the UC-wide service worker union that has supported the insourcing campaign since its inception a year and a half ago. It is a malicious way to force administration’s terms on the ABM workers after being derelict in meeting with the ABM workers’ committee and AFSCME. Worse than intimidation, UCI’s administration is endangering the very livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families by subverting the collective bargaining process and reinterpreting “insourcing” to fit its own agenda, potentially causing the very workers who called for the insourcing to lose their jobs. This must not be allowed to happen.

Moreover, the email is demonstrative of the bad faith in which Chancellor Drake, Vice-Chancellor Brase, UCI’s Human Resources, and the rest of UCI’s administration deal with students and workers struggling to rectify the structural injustices at the University. Where is the University’s CIVILITY when they strong-arm workers into submission and cover up mass layoffs in the guise of their twisted interpretation of “insourcing?” The unfortunate reality of the University’s self-righteous claim to benevolence at the end of their email[1] is that their reforms were the result of direct actions undertaken by workers and students after the breakdown of negotiations and civil discourse. This has historically been the case regardless of whether the demands dealt with workers’ issues or student issues (like establishing ethnic studies at UCI). Despite these administrators’ so-called generosity and goodwill, these gains were only made as a result of direct action.

Where is the University’s promise of FREE SPEECH when they email deceptions to the whole campus community, knowing full well that we—workers and students—do not have the same access to campus communications to challenge their propaganda? The unfortunate reality of UCI’s being a “marketplace of ideas” is that the administration holds an ideological monopoly in which certain political and social agendas are disseminated and directly imposed through institutional support (e.g. the list of speakers selected in the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series concerning issues on Israel-Palestine, neo-liberal economics/ globalization, and torture memos). In fact, UCI, through the Dean of Students, is in the business of crushing dissent (Irvine 11, Irvine 17). The letter’s cavalier fabrications give clear evidence that UCI’s administrators do NOT care about us or addressing any of the issues of gentrification, privatization, and racism the campus community has raised over the course of this year’s teach-ins, rallies, walk-outs, marches, and sit-ins.

We ask you to stand with and defend the ABM workers against UC administrators who are intent on destroying the workers’ fight for their rightful place in the University. Call and email Chancellor Drake [(949) 824-5111, chancellor@uci.edu] and Vice-Chancellor Brase [(949) 824-5107, wcbrase@uci.edu] and ask them directly whether or not they are guaranteeing the hiring of ABM workers with UCI or if they are simply extending an “employment opportunity” to these workers—some of who have worked at UCI for over two decades under various outsourcing firms. Ask that they either guarantee the ABM workers be hired by UCI or stop their current method of “insourcing” until they properly negotiate and form an agreement regarding the structuring of the insourcing with the current ABM workers’ committee and AFSCME. We also ask that you sign the following petition in support of the ABM workers: http://www.petitiononline.com/savejobs/petition.html

We are sincerely hoping that your support will make UCI’s administrators deal with the workers, union, and students in good faith. However, we recognize that the next few days and weeks are critical in determining the fate of the ABM workers, and we are accordingly making preparations in case the bad faith continues. We must not allow UCI’s administrators to perpetually attack and make voiceless any segment of the UCI community in such a shameless and dangerous manner. No more lies.

________________________________

[1] “Since 2006, UCI has hired more than 300 individuals – including food service personnel and groundskeepers – who were previously outsourced. The university, of its own accord, also funded health insurance for workers and their families during the 12 months it took to complete the insourcing process.”

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