A hunger striking union leader representing USC cafeteria workers and janitors ended her 11-day fast Thursday, although the dispute over job security that triggered her protest continues.
Maria Elena Durazo, president of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, Local 11, took a sip of chicken broth in her trailer parked across from the USC campus and told supporters: “I have ended my fast, but will continue my struggle.”
The labor dispute has lingered for four years and involves 350 workers at USC, which is the city’s largest private employer. The workers--who are not on strike--want a written guarantee that the university will not replace them with contract workers. University officials contend that they have no plans to hire contract workers to replace USC staff, but don’t want to limit their options by signing such an agreement.
Durazo said her doctor and family urged her to end the fast, and she agreed to do so when others agreed to take up the hunger strike in her place.
Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) is the first to succeed Durazo. Cedillo said he will fast for at least two days. He will then be followed by a series of hunger strikers, who will each fast for a few days.
Several politicians, labor leaders and celebrities have agreed to join the fast, Cedillo said.