February 23, 2011 2 Comments
Taken from the SDUT:
Campus police had to be called Wednesday to break up a raucous demonstration in the offices of University of California San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.
About 35 students, staff members and supporters marched into Fox’s office shortly after 11 a.m., chanting loudly and stomping their feet in support of Wilda Helen, a recently fired postdoctoral researcher.
Helen, an Indonesian citizen, was fired Jan. 6 from her $43,000-per-year job as a stem cell researcher in UCSD’s bioengineering department. Neither she nor university officials will say why she was dismissed, though Helen has said: “My supervisor has made false allegations about my work.”
As a result of the termination, Helen’s J-1 visa was automatically invalidated and she must leave the country by Sunday.
Under a union contract, Helen is entitled to appeal her firing to an arbitrator. She and her supporters want Fox to expedite the arbitration process so Helen can participate in it.
Fox was not on campus Wednesday, her chief of staff told Helen and the protesters. But, in any case, university officials told the group, the labor contract bars Fox from getting involved. Two United Auto Workers representatives at the rally insisted that nothing in the contract prohibits Fox from getting involved.
Helen’s supporters said before the march that they were prepared to occupy Fox’s office until they got satisfaction or got arrested. But when uniformed officers showed up after about 25 minutes of contentious exchanges between officials and protesters, with orders to make arrests if the crowd did not disperse, the demonstrators left at Helen’s request.
“I didn’t want to see people get arrested for my case,” she said. “I really appreciate everyone coming out and supporting me.”
Union representatives said an arbitration eventually will be held, even with Helen in Indonesia.
“She will be at a significant disadvantage in terms of reviewing documents, conferring with us and facing her accusers,” said Christine Petit, a UAW representative.