2009/05/04:Daily Cardinal: Student organizations march for change - Immigrant Workers Union

Student organizations march for change
By: Estephany Escobar
The Daily Cardinal
May 4, 2009

By: Lorenzo Zemella /The Daily Cardinal  Various student groups from the UW-Madison camps said they marched in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Members of multiple UW-Madison student organizations joined a rally to voice their support for immigrant rights Friday.

The rally, organized by the Immigrant Workers Union, honored the International Workers Day and aimed to push for workers rights at the local and state level.

Thirty organizations attended the event to show their support for the Employee Free Choice Act, the withdrawal of bus fare increase, paid sick leave and decreased tuition for low-income students.

Jeff Bessmer, member of the Willy Street Co-op board of directors, who decided to march with UW students, said he hoped politicians heard the demands of the community.

“I’m hoping a lot of the politicians…in town understand that there’s a push for better jobs in town for adopting fair trade principles, equality when hiring and that state politicians [know we] want the employee free choice act passed,” Bessmer said.

Students from the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MECha) and the Student Labor Action Coalition gathered at Library Mall to make their way to the park, where the march started.

Students walked from the Brittingham Park to the Capitol and ended at the Dane County Building. During the rally several members of worker unions and musical artists performed.

“I’m hoping that more people are more aware of these issues and maybe take a stand,” Maria Ambriz, a member of MECha, said.

Carolina Ortega, member of MECha, said her organization wanted to voice their support for the Dream Act, a legislation that would enable undocumented immigrant students to achieve higher education if passed.

Ortega gave a speech in the Capitol during the march.

“We believe is really important for immigrant students to achieve their higher education because there [are] a lot of talented students out there.” Ortega said.

According to Jan Van Tol, a member of the Student Labor Action Coalition, the organization participated to push for the Employee Free Choice Act. If passed by the Senate, the federal legislation would make it easier for workers to join the union.

Tol said eight other student organizations participated in the rally, including the Multicultural Student Coalition, Student Progressive Dane and Latino Law Students Association among others.