Latina community activist Maria Sada
addresses the press conference at North Carolina State called by UE Local 150
to demand that the university administration recognize the language rights of
After she was reprimanded last year for speaking in
Spanish to a co-worker, North Carolina State University housekeeper Maricruz
Ramos filed a grievance with the help of the UE Local 150 Legal Committee
and other union members. Local 150 would like NCSU to clarify its policy on
workers speaking Spanish in the workplace.
During the grievance proceedings, the NCSU administration
denied that anything wrong happened to Ramos. However, Lawrence Bradley,
assistant director for housekeeping, said in a letter to the grievant that Dick
Miller, facilities personnel director, had "consented to send out a
written communication explaining employees’ rights to speak their native
language in the workplace."
WRITTEN POLICY DEMANDED
Workers have not yet seen a memo explaining the university’s
policy. UE Local 150 is calling on workers, students, faculty and other
justice-minded people to call on Miller to demand that a written policy be
established immediately. Workers, students and community supporters spoke at a
press conference to bring attention to discrimination at NCSU.
More than 25 student and community members joined with UE
Local 150 members for the press conference Monday, Feb. 5 at NC State
University in Raleigh. Among the groups participating were the Farm Labor
Organizing Committee (FLOC), the African-American/Latino Alliance and the NC
Occupational and Safety Health Project.
Speaking at the press conference were UE Local 150 Pres. Barbara
Prear, NCSU union members Maricruz Ramos and John Daniels, APWU
Raleigh area President Ajamu Dillahunt (for the African-American/Latino
Alliance) and Maria Sada, Latina community supporter.
The press conference was covered by two newspapers, the Raleigh
News and Observor, and the NC State Technician and at least three
TV stations, one which gave extensive coverage.
The press conference exposed the university’s language
discrimination to the community, creating pressure on the university for the
appropriate response. Organizers also hope to show Latino and other workers
that it is important to expose discrimination and not fear retaliation.
Speakers highlighted the need for all workers to fight all kinds of
discrimination — showing the connection between discrimination against black
and Latino workers and the need for unity.
"UE 150 has supported Ms. Ramos in her case because as a
union we stand against discrimination based on race, language, gender, sexual
orientation, age, etc.," said the union’s NCSU Chapter in its March
UE News - 04/01