Last-Minute Shuffle for the Commencement Speech at UC Berkeley

Democratic senator says she now won't be the speaker at Saturday's ceremony due to the labor dispute and a call for a boycott

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is heeding a boycott call by striking University of California employees and announced Monday that she will not be commencement speaker at UC Berkeley ceremonies.

Harris said she “regretfully” won’t attend Saturday’s spring commencement due to the labor dispute and the call for a university-wide speaker boycott. Instead, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ will deliver the keynote address.

Harris says she wishes the estimated 5,800 students “success for the future.”

Thousands of UC custodians, security guards, gardeners, and other service workers began a three-day walkout on Monday to address gender pay inequalities and demand higher wages. The Associated Press reported that officials at UC Davis Medical Center were forced to reschedule more than 100 cancer exams and 150 radiology exams.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 called for the strike, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The union represents 25,000 service workers.

Related: Mariachi Band Images Are Not Permitted on This Campus

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The report said medical workers sympathetic to the strikers are set to join walkouts set for over the next few days. Essential patient care will be provided, the report said. Hundreds of surgeries, however, were rescheduled.

Claire Doan, a spokesman for the UC system, said the service workers are already paid at or above the market rate and now demanding an almost 20 percent pay increase over three years.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 called for the strike, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“A disruptive demonstration will change neither UC’s economic situation nor the university’s position on AFSCME’s unreasonable demands,” Doan said.

This Fox News piece is used by permission; the Associated Press contributed.

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(photo credit, homepage image: Sather’s Gate, CC BY-SA 3.0, by Minesweeper; photo credit, article image: Stephens Hall, CC BY 2.0, by another sergio)

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