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On the picket line

May 4, 2007 | Page 11

Hayward, Calif., teachers
Student Labor Action Project at UVM

Hayward, Calif., teachers
By John Green

HAYWARD, Calif.--Public school teachers here ended their 10-day strike after forcing substantial concessions from the school district. By a 9-to-1 margin, teachers approved a tentative agreement that calls for an immediate 8 percent raise, a further 3 percent raise next year, and a one-time 1 percent salary bonus.

Under the new contract, Hayward teachers will surge ahead from the 14th to the eighth best compensated out of the 17 school districts in Alameda County. Though teachers lost about half a month's income during the strike, they will earn back that amount and then some even before next year's 3 percent raise kicks in.

Both sides announced the agreement just hours after hundreds of striking teachers, parents and community members rallied in downtown Hayward outside of city hall. Their well-organized public action evoked a deafening response of horn blasts from passing cars and trucks.

Daily unity rallies and the formation of the bilingual Families in Action solidarity group bolstered morale on the picket line and clearly contributed to the district's failure to break the strike. In the final days of the strike, the district moved for an injunction against the teachers, essentially declaring that the strike was too effective and well organized to be broken without outside help.

The militant, unbending fight by Hayward teachers and parents will set a powerful precedent in the Bay Area for years to come. "We won more than just dollars," union president Kathleen Crummey said. "The Hayward community is now galvanized to save our schools and education in Hayward."

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Student Labor Action Project at UVM
By Jessica Zamiara

BURLINGTON, Vt.--As many as 200 students, workers and faculty gathered in support of livable wages at the University of Vermont (UVM) in a rally on April 27 that marked the end of a five-day hunger strike by the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP).

Nancy Welch, a representative of United Academics, pointed to the skyrocketing salaries of top UVM officials. "Today," she said, "there are 15 people with salaries above $200,000--including [university President Dan] Fogel's, which has gone from $260,000 in 2003 to $301,144 today," Welch said. "How would you like a $41,000 raise?"

As part of its livable wage campaign, SLAP is demanding a base wage raise to $13.62 an hour. When the SLAP hunger strike started, the administration immediately expressed concern for the student strikers' health. "It is unfortunate they are focusing so much on our safety, and not the issue at hand," said hunger striker Alessandro Ascherio.

The rally came to a close with SLAP taking their demands directly to the administration. Chanting "Raise the floor!" and "Hey hey, ho ho, these poverty wages have got to go!" protesters filed into the administration building, where administrators had locked themselves in their offices.

A meeting between the SLAP hunger strikers and Fogel ended with a verbal agreement that Fogel will re-launch the basic needs and equitable compensation task force. SLAP members considered this a victory on many accounts.

"We began following a denial by the administration that compensation for underpaid workers on this campus was an issue," the group explained in a statement, "and we ended with a commitment by the administration to continue working on this issue and a videotaped statement by President Fogel that the livable wage issue will be significantly considered moving forward."

"This is not the end," the SLAP statement continues. "We will continue to promote and defend the rights of the under-compensated workers on this campus, today, tomorrow, and into the future."

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