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Bill Clinton cancels his speech at UCLA

June 11, 2008|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

Former President Clinton will not speak at a UCLA graduation ceremony Friday because of the university's ongoing labor dispute with a union.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees asked Clinton and other speakers to cancel their scheduled appearances at UC campuses, Phil Hampton, a spokesman for UCLA, said in a statement. The union represents 20,000 university employees, including about 5,400 at UCLA, and its members' contract has expired.

Clinton was scheduled to address about 4,000 graduating seniors at the College of Letters and Science commencement ceremony.

"President Clinton is honored to be invited to speak at UCLA's commencement ceremonies, but as he has said, he cannot cross a picket line," Craig Minassian, a spokesman for Clinton, said in a statement.

Judith L. Smith, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education at the College of Letters and Science, called the cancellation "disappointing."

"It's unfortunate that union activities are affecting a UCLA event intended to celebrate student achievement," Smith said in a statement.

In Clinton's place, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block will deliver the keynote remarks, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion.

The university and the union have been in negotiations for a contract for its medical technicians, custodians and cafeteria workers.


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