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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Student assistants celebrate historical win at rally

Student workers will be able to bargain for their demands with the CSU
Sean Young
Maddux Eckerling, a CSUEU-SFSU organizer and first-year student, speaks to a crowd of students and faculty at Malcolm X Plaza on Feb. 26, 2024. (Sean Young / Golden Gate Xpress)

San Francisco State University campus tour guide, Anni Welch has been a student assistant since April 2023. Up until six months ago, Welch wasn’t aware that a union for themselves and other student workers was in the process of becoming a possibility. 

Welch says that’s partly due to a larger cycle of suppression from their supervisors in the workplace. 

“A lot of our bosses have been illegally shutting union representatives out of our offices and kicking them out,” Welch said. “They’ve been demonizing them to us and making them seem like predatory people.”

Recently, Welch’s boss encouraged the office staff to participate in a two-to-three-day workshop trip around the state to advertise SFSU to thousands of high school students. However, the tour guides would only get paid two hours out of the day’s work.  

“On the same tour that could get multiple students to come here and give the school hundreds of thousands of dollars, I only get paid $17 for it, which is completely ridiculous,” Welch said. 

Several blue-and-yellow-clad SFSU student assistants shared similar stories at the rally celebrating the historic joint with the California State University Employees Union at Malcolm X Plaza on Feb. 26.

“Events like this are really effective to be able to make sure that we’re all getting our voices heard,” Welch said. “There’s been so many wonderful labor movements on this campus in the past year and it’s an honor to be a part of it.” 

Approximately 25 students and supporters listened to peers discuss their experiences as student workers and their next steps within the CSUEU. 

CSUEU organizers Nabil Cristillo (foreground) and Emily Hake (background) hype up a crowd of students and faculty at Malcolm X Plaza on Feb. 26, 2024. (Sean Young / Golden Gate Xpress) (Sean Young)

The event included guest speakers from student worker groups and statewide organizers for the CSUEU and California Faculty Association members. Some participants wore blue and yellow pins, the colors associated with CSUEU, to show their solidarity with student assistants. 

Ali Noorzad, co-chair of SFSU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter, kicked off the rally by congratulating student workers on their efforts to unionize. 

“Because of the organizing you’ve all put in, you and 20,000 other student assistants across the CSU will have the power, not to just defend your power as student workers, but also fight for what the student body deserves,” Noorzad said to attendees. 

A fellow campus tour guide, Becca Wilson, spoke at the rally about her experience with inadequate working conditions and how uncomfortable she feels endorsing campus jobs.  

“I can’t tell them [prospective students] that if they get a job on campus, they aren’t even going to be paid San Francisco’s minimum wage, or that they won’t get affordable parking or sick pay,” Wilson said to the group. “It feels like a false advertisement.”

Nabil Cristillo has been a professional organizer for 14 years. Hired by the CSUEU at the start of this campaign two years ago, Cristillo says that witnessing the movement’s success is exciting, but continued union participation is crucial to keeping momentum. 

“Participation statewide by student systems, being active in their union and participating, is where the power of the bargaining teams comes from,” Cristillo said. 

SFSU-CFA Chapter President Brad Erickson and Communications Chair Marie Drennan also attended the rally and shared their excitement for the student workers union.

“This isn’t just the union getting bigger. It includes voices and concerns that haven’t really been a part of it before,” Drennan said. “I think that’s going to be incredibly dynamic [to see].” 

Noorzad says he looks forward to this being the start of a growing student labor movement, one where student workers take agency and power within higher education institutes. 

“I’m part of this community,” Noorzad said. “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be out here [showing support].” 


This story has been corrected for accuracy

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About the Contributors
Gabriela Calvillo Alvarez
Gabriela Calvillo Alvarez, Breaking News Editor
Gabriela Calvillo Alvarez (she/they) is breaking news editor for Golden Gate Xpress. She is double majoring in journalism and political science, two passions she holds near to her heart. Growing up in the East Bay, Gabriela graduated from Washington High School, where she wrote and was news editor on the award-winning school newspaper, The Hatchet. She also participated in The Stanford Daily Summer Internship in 2020. During their spare time, Gabriela enjoys going out with friends, attending concerts and learning new things. 
Sean Young
Sean Young, Campus Editor
Sean Young (he/him) is the campus editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major with a minor in California Studies. Originally from the small town of Sebastopol, Sean now lives in San Francisco. Before transferring to SF State, Sean studied journalism at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he was editor-in-chief of the college's student publication The Oak Leaf News. In his spare time, Sean can be found watching sports, listening to his vinyl record collection and reading the latest news from The New York Times.

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