Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the UC Berkeley Latino graduation ceremony later this month, decided to withdraw from the festivities. It seems the Senator refuses to cross the picket line, honoring the current boycott of the University of California campuses by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and University Professionals & Technical Employees (UPTE).
In part of a written statement, Romero says:
It was an honor to have been invited by the students to offer the commencement address at the University of California’s flagship campus. This graduation ceremony was particularly inspiring for me—to congratulate Latino and Latina students who had had the ganas to fight for the American Dream.
It was with a heavy heart that I informed the UCB students and dedicated faculty and staff that I would not appear to deliver my remarks in person. What an irony I would have seen: on one hand, students in robes celebrating the overcoming of obstacles and staking their claim in the American Dream; on the other hand, I would have seen Latino workers—perhaps their own uncles and aunts, holding picket signs asking this internationally-acclaimed university to simply pay them a living wage so that the graduates’ younger hermanitos could one day attend the same university! I ask the Chancellor to heed this call and correct the misplaced priorities at the university— one of cutting classes and the lowest wage workers serving those students, while paying out millions in executive compensation and perks.
Romero has made several calls to the Chancellor Robert Birgeneau pleaded with him to meet with the students and unions "in order to come to a “good faith” agreement on the issues so that the graduation ceremonies would not be picketed." This comes on the heels of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez canceling her UC Riverside commencement speech due to the janitor's union dispute with the University of California.