Elsewhere: UC walkout could ignite a larger movement SFBG

Thursday is shaping up to be a day of rallies, walkouts and strikes on Bay Area higher education campuses as groups from public university and city college systems plan to protest state budget cuts and their impact on education.

University of California faculty, students and workers are planning a system-wide strike and walkout of classes. A rally is planned for noon at the University of California at Berkeley campus in Sproul Plaza.

State Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, is scheduled to speak at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center at a 12:30 p.m. strike rally.

Organizers say the planned rallies, picketing and walkouts are aimed at the UC Board of Regents and UC President Mark Yudof, protesting the way administrators handled this year’s sharp reductions in state funding. Campuses are cutting course offerings, increasing class size and instituting furloughs and layoffs to absorb a $750 million shortfall in state funding. Students are also facing significantly larger fees.

Students, teachers and staff at the City College of San Francisco system are also planning to highlight the impact of state budget cuts on city campuses Thursday.

Steve Zeltzer, a labor organizer with United Public Workers for Action, said 500 to 1,000 people are expected to attend a noon rally at the Ram Plaza on the City College’s Ocean Avenue campus. After the rally, participants will march through the campus, he said.

Zeltzer said this may be the first time groups from state, city and community higher education systems have coordinated their efforts to address state funding issues.

“Every group is trying to solve their own crisis themselves and it’s not working,” he said. “I think people realize the problem can’t be solved on individual campuses.”

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