LOS ANGELES : 15 Arrested in Union Demonstration at USC

Fifteen protesters were arrested Thursday for blocking rush-hour traffic outside USC in an effort to broaden support for unionized campus workers fighting for a new contract with the university.

As more than 60 placard-waving supporters looked on, members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, Local 11, clasped hands in a semicircle and shut off traffic on Vermont Avenue and 36th Place for about 15 minutes.

After issuing warnings to leave, police in riot gear slapped plastic handcuffs on the protesters' wrists and lead them to a bus for a ride to the LAPD's Southwest Division, where they were cited for blocking traffic and released.

The action was meant to call attention to the union's effort to strike from its contract a clause that allows the university to subcontract non-union workers.

Union officials said the language is a threat to the job security of about 300 of their members who are working in the university's dining halls and dormitories.

The university, however, said the clause has only been invoked once in the last 23 years and is necessary to ensure, among other things, that students with special dietary needs can get prepared meals.

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