SEIU 1021

California College of the Arts Students Walk Out in Protest of Layoffs; Faculty & Staff Join for Noontime Rally
CCA administration recently announced that they will lay off frontline staff who work directly with students and keep studios and labs open without demonstrating that they have made every effort to balance their budget in other ways



Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo,, (510) 710-0201

A year ago, staff at California College of the Arts (CCA) went on a four-day strike in protest of the administration’s illegal labor practices, pushing for a first contract that took over two years (and that strike) to secure. Last month, CCA administration announced their intention to lay off 8-10% of frontline staff in response to lower than expected enrollment – even as they continue to pay their president, Stephen Beal, over $580,000 – more than any other private university president in the Bay Area with the exception of Stanford.

CCA students, outraged that their extremely high and rising tuition and fees are being directed to top-heavy administration and real estate deals rather than to keeping their studios, labs, and other student spaces staffed, are taking matters into their own hands. They are planning to walk out of classes at 10 AM Thursday morning and will be hosting and participating in a variety of protest-themed art activities, from needlepoint to screen-printing union T-shirts,  in front of the school throughout the day. Staff and faculty will join them for a speak-out rally at 12 PM. Supervisor Dean Preston will also speak at the rally.

What: CCA student walkout and solidarity rally with staff

When: Thursday, April 27, from 12-1 PM

Where: CCA campus, 1111 8th St., San Francisco

Who: CCA students, joined by staff and faculty at noon

Why: Protest of planned staff layoffs

Visuals: Rally with signs, student art projects including screen printing of T-shirts, chalk painting on the sidewalks, a “stitch-and-bitch,” and more

View and download the press kit, including factsheets and student demands, here.

“Staff and faculty have always put my education first,” said Mateo Sof Allier Lechuga, a graduating senior in animation at CCA. “They’ve given me a real opportunity to learn and grow, given me all the resources I need, sometimes even from their own pockets. Their working conditions are student learning conditions, and they should be getting the respect they deserve. How can I truly be proud of my college when I see our community being treated as disposable? Those handling the school’s money have to put CCA’s workers and students first. They have to do their jobs responsibly, and speak to students, staff, and faculty honestly and frequently.”

“I have spent the last year looking into what has been going wrong at CCA and comparing what students, staff, and faculty have to say to what administration is showing on the [student] portal,” said graduating senior Mae Ware. “It is beyond disheartening to watch as this school that I once loved begins to crumble due to decisions administrators are making with the money students give them. I think that there should be a ‘chop from the top’ where administrators take a pay cut rather than laying off student-supporting staff. This campus is already so understaffed.”

“We get it. The school borrowed a lot of money. They are struggling to make required payments. Staff, students, and adjunct faculty are done paying the price for their bad bets,” said Elizabeth Travelslight, an adjunct professor of visual studies and visual critical studies at CCA and the CCA union political coordinator. “If budget cuts need to be made, we encourage them to look at balancing the budget by minimizing the growing gap between the school’s highest and lowest paid employees. We encourage CCA’s trustees to take some initiative and model a culture of philanthropy that supports the PEOPLE that make our students’ learning community possible.”

“I stand in solidarity with our students. They are paying top dollar for their education at CCA, with tuition and housing costs set to increase next year, yet, we’re facing budget cuts and layoffs that will negatively impact the student experience,” said Amber Bales, senior library technician and CCA union secretary. “We need to stand together as a community to demand financial transparency and prevent CCA from becoming the next MICA or SFAI.”


SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.