It’s been a long time coming.

After two commencement speakers bailed on our graduation here at Cal for the last two years (yeah, remember Fabian Nunez last year?), UC has finally reached an agreement with AFSCME (a labor union acronym with a really long name).

Custodians here at UC Berkeley will receive a $1.25 per hour pay hike retroactive from April 1 and will get an extra $0.50 an hour starting Oct. 1.

Supposedly, UC has been wanting to up the pay for its lower-paid workers for a really long time now. At least that’s what UC spokesperson Nicole Savickas said.

bq. We’ve been wanting to give raises to all our lower-paid employees. It’s been a long process and it was just recently that we were able to come to this compromise. It’s unfortunate that this had to disrupt the commencements.

Really? UC has “been wanting to give raises”? What was stopping UC from giving these workers this pay hike?

And Danny Glover did contact the union president. What did he say?

bq. He said, “Congratulations!”

Awesome. You did your part, Danny. So when are we going to get Lethal Weapon 5?

UC settles pay dispute with custodians [Mercury-News]


It’s established that Danny Glover is a no-go for the Commencement Convocation today at 4 p.m. Instead, students will listen to Chancellor Birgeneau and others speak at $2 a seat in the Greek Theatre.

Dude, we’ve heard him speak for free. At least Glover bared his ass in “Beloved.” And it was a nice, muscular gluteus maximus.

Alongside the chancellor, graduating senior Adrian Down will speak today and receive the University Medal. Down is a high-achieving, 3.9 GPA double major in physics and math who has gained recognition for his advanced research, mentoring and promotion of organic foods. Plus, he wears bright plaid shorts. Rock on.

UC Berkeley NewsCenter lists the other speakers for the various graduation ceremonies held until May 21. Some of the department speakers seem rather ill-fitting. Here are the head-scratchers:

* Patricia Gandara, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA. Graduate School of Education, May 12 at 2 p.m. in Zellerbach.
* Kate Levin, UC Berkeley alumna and commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. English Department, May 13 at 3 p.m. at the Greek.
* Sabeer Bhatia, founder of Hotmail and one of Time’s “People to Watch” in 2002 for international business. Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Economy, Conservation Research Studies, Latin American Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, May 17 at 3 p.m. in Zellerbach.

That last one’s a doozy. Shouldn’t a business dude address business people? Just a thought. Also, that’s a mighty random grouping of departments. It looks like someone just got lazy:

“Ah, what the heck, let’s just have the Time guy do all the other departments. I’ve got a meeting to go to and I’m already late on those TPS reports. Did you hear we have to put cover sheets on them now? Shit.”

Commencement Convocation this Wednesday [UC Berkeley NewsCenter]


It’s official, and no, Lethal Weapon 5 isn’t in the works–at least not yet. But Danny Glover will not be speaking at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Inside Bay Area news is reporting that Glover has officially cancelled on the university.

Last week, Glover told reporters that he was going to boycott the commencement convocation to join in solidarity with the custodians currently in a labor dispute with the university.

Glover’s announcement comes a day after UC custodians have agreed to a new proposal to end their labor dispute.

The proposal, which was authored by former California State Sen. John Burton, calls for a $1.75 per hour increase for custodians at Cal, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz. Custodians at other UCs would receive a $0.75 per hour increase.

It looks like Burton was trying to save this year’s commencement ceremony by coming up with this deal. In a statement, Burton said:

bq. It would be a great dishonor to the University of California should this dispute unnecessarily disrupt ceremonies again this year.

Oh well. Better luck next time.

Earlier: Danny Glover Can Disappoint Without Making Lethal Weapon 5

NEW: Glover cancels UC speech to protest janitor wages [Inside Bay Area]
Custodians Agree to Proposal to End Labor Dispute [Daily Cal]


Danny Glover is trying to throw his weight around. He said yesterday that he will not speak at this year’s commencement convocation unless a labor dispute with custodians is resolved.

This would be the second year in a row that someone did not speak because of a labor issue. State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez dropped out at the last minute last year for a similar reason and we couldn’t get other Democratic politicians either.

And just because we already said that the way of choosing convocation speakers is horrible, we’ll do it again:

bq. The Senior Class Council, or the Californians, was responsible for selecting a commencement speaker and have said that they were careful to select a speaker outside the political arena in order to avoid the problem of speakers dropping out of ceremonies.

Guess that didn’t work out so well. Maybe next year we should try something a little more traditional, like paying for a speaker.

Speaker Will Not Cross Picket Lines [Daily Cal]


Our esteemed graduation speaker has turned down his opportunity to rule the liberal capital of the United States. After lefty bloggers created a fake Web site to promote the rumor, Danny Glover denied the claim publicly.

Actor and activist Danny Glover—who some were hoping might use his “Lethal Weapon” star power to give San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom a run for his money—is saying thanks, but no thanks.

Can’t wait to hear if he’s going to speak on his nonexistent Mayoral duties or whatev. Convocation invites went out and list Glover as “Actor, Producer, Director, and Activist”. There’s no more help to make the connection between Glover and why he’s a good match to speak at UC Berkeley, though.

Earlier: UC Berkeley Will Listen to Whoever It Can, In This Case Danny Glover


The Daily Cal reports that the commencement speaker has been named. We hope you’re not in a crowded room when you read this: Danny Glover.

As a university that considers itself above paying commencement speakers and awarding honorary degrees, UC Berkeley is left to have whoever will come. And we’re picky about it, too. After last year’s commencement when State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez didn’t cross a union picket line to deliver the address promised, the committee avoided any persons with political affiliations.

What we’re left with is an underwhelming name who, in addition to his success in the Lethal Weapon franchise, graduated from San Francisco State only to later be awarded an honorary degree in Fine Arts from the same institution. We can’t give you an honorary degree, but you’re totally qualified if you got one from somewhere else!

As underwhelming as the candidate is, the potential candidate list is even worse. It’s like a Hollywood party that would never happen:

Oprah: I’d love to come speak at UC Berkeley, but I’m too busy supporting schools in Africa.
Anderson Cooper: It’s true, I reported it last night on “Anderson Cooper 360.” I also write my own books about being a journalist. I would captivate the crowd with my piercing eyes, as blue as the jeans my heiress mother used to be in commercials for.
Bono: Don’t buy jeans, America. Buy (RED) products. Save the world through your consumption.
Bill Cosby: Oh, no! Bono’s sunglasses are off. He’s getting sunstroke! Call a doctor!
George Clooney: I can help. I played one on TV.
Ellen DeGeneres: Why don’t we all take a break from this serious stuff. Look! Kristi Yamaguchi is doing a double axle.
Kristi Yamaguchi (while doing double axle): Weeeeee.
Tom Hanks: I’d be a great speaker. I’ve been in very serious movies about war and the digital age. Did you see me in You’ve Got Mail? That’s totally relevant to the Facebook generation.
Baba Wawa: I could do an interview with Magic Johnson and read back to an audience with boring facial expressions and stoic body language.
Magic Johnson: Or I could just talk for myself.
Denzel Washington: I hope people don’t get me confused with that “Grey’s” hater since I haven’t had a good movie since Remember the Titans.
Jon Stewart: And there you have it, your moment of zen.

Film Actor Chosen to Speak at Graduation [Daily Cal]