A group of students and labor organizers occupied the fifth floor of Aldrich Hall at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, disrupting business and presenting a wide-ranging list of demands.

Offices on the fifth floor were locked down and protestors were informed that they should leave or they would be arrested. By noon, police arrested 17 protestors inside Aldrich Hall who refused to leave and cited them with unlawful assembly and refusal to disperse. Students arrested will also be cited with violations of university conduct policy.

Demonstrators outside the building blocked several exits impeding the ability of those inside to leave. Police surrounded the perimeter of the building and exits were cleared.

By afternoon, staff inside Aldrich Hall were evacuated to ensure their safety.

Among the 12 demands (see below) was a call for custodial workers currently working under a contract outsourced to ABM Industries to be immediately hired by the university. In January 2009, AFSCME, the union that would represent custodial workers if UCI hired them, approached the university about insourcing workers now employed by ABM. These workers currently are represented by a different union.

Discussions progressed throughout the spring. The university expressed its willingness to insource the function, starting with selected custodial positions. Applicants would be required to meet university employment requirements and complete standard hiring procedures as mandated for all staff. The university also offered to raise ABM contract employees’ pay rates to a level comparable to UCI wages while the process was underway. ABM employees agreed to the plan, which was implemented in July. Later that summer, AFSCME asked that the university delay insourcing.

During the fall of 2009, UCI officials advised the union they would be willing to begin insourcing custodial positions by January 2010. AFSCME asked for another delay. Since 2006, UCI has hired more than 300 previously outsourced jobs, including food service personnel and groundskeepers. Additionally, the university, of its own accord, purchased health insurance for workers and their families during the 12 months it took to complete the insourcing process.

“We have always been, and will continue to be committed to fair and equitable treatment for all the employees on our campus,” said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. “We support the insourcing of jobs and only require that we continue to follow the university’s long established hiring policies.”

Other student demands presented Wednesday included:

  1. We demand that UCI administration implement a comprehensive financial aid system by fall 2010 that apportions grant aid (excluding loans from the equation) and on-campus housing based on family wealth rather than income. Financial aid must be designed to counteract the economic effects of structural and systemic racism in our society.
  2. We demand the immediate direct hiring of all outsourced ABM workers and fair pay for all campus workers. Students and workers do not support discriminatory hiring practices that victimize immigrant, Latina/o working families.
  3. We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly commit to seeking out private donations that will specifically fund financial aid to AB540 (undocumented) students or begin providing financial aid for AB540 students directly from his office’s discretionary funding. We want administration to publicly recognize that AB540 students do not share the same economic freedoms and securities as other populations.
  4. We demand that UCI administration immediately disarm all police officers of Tasers. This action is supported by the December 2009 ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Taser has replaced the lash of the whip as a device in the service of state-sanctioned anti-blackness, evidenced so blatantly at UCLA this past November, and UCI’s administration should lead in the banning of this device.
  5. We demand that UCI immediately equip the campus with gender neutral bathrooms. Students and workers who do not fit the illusion of gender normativity suffer routine violence and intimidation. UC should not privilege heteronormativity over the interests of its LGBT community.
  6. We demand the recall of the three groundskeepers that were laidoff in October 2009 and the reinstatement of the 5% time reduction of the entire campus of AFSCME 3299 service unit.
  7. We demand that no disciplinary action (academic or legal) be taken against the 11 students arrested at Ambassador Oren’s event. UCI and the surrounding community’s repeated attacks against, and hyper-surveillance of, Muslim and Arab students aids in branding legitimate political criticisms against the apartheid state of Israel as ‘uncivil’ and fosters a segregated cultural, social, and intellectual climate for the university. Deploying rhetoric that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism serves to annihilate rather than engage in dialogue.
  8. We demand 100% funding from administration for a recruitment and retention center for underrepresented students. Recruiting and retaining students of color and low-income students should be a campus priority, but UCI has neglected to support these important efforts.
  9. We demand that until state-funding has been restored to the UC system in full, that all budget cuts imposed in the fall be redistributed by imposing an equal percentage cut to each of UCI’s schools.
  10. We demand that UCI administration immediately reinvest in the ethnic, queer, and women’s studies departments/programs. UCI should foster an environment that is supportive of students who are considered outside of the “mythical norms” of our society. As evidenced so blatantly at UCSD this past week, Black subjects are in an antagonistic position against the institution, this sentiment is reinforced by administration and creates a safe space for anti-blackness. UCI administration should lead in creating a campus that engages in academic, political, and social reeducation which challenges structural and individual racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia.
  11. We demand that Chancellor Drake publicly disclose all of UCI’s military and private security contracts. Furthermore, we demand that Chancellor Drake shut down the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs and discontinue all military and Homeland Security contracts that aid in both the mass murder of people around the world by U.S. imperialism (particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Pakistan) or the violent police repression of students and workers within the U.S. In solidarity with workers and students around the world, we demand an end to genocidal imperialist wars for profit and empire: U.S. imperialism out of Iraq and Afghanistan!
  12. We demand that UCI not feed the prison-industrial complex. We demand that UCI end its contract with Motorola by fall 2010. Furthermore, we demand the removal of all Dell, IBM, and Texas Instrument products by fall 2010 as well.