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CUE On Strike!
Battered by years of increasing labor unrest, the University of California saw more of the same this week as clerical workers on all ten campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab left their offices and took it to the streets for three days in a row.
Workers represented by CUE (Coalition of University Employees), a self-described "feisty, independent union" were joined by hundreds of other UC union members in honoring picket lines throughout the state on Monday. Work stoppages and rallies were reported from one end of the State to the other at UC campuses and hospitals in San Diego, Irvine, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. All reported turnout exceeding organizers expectations for the first day. They expect more to join them each day building up to the Strike's official end Wednesday night.
A mass rally is planned at the Office of the President, Robert Dynes, in Oakland on Wednesday, June 15th. In the short time of Dynes' tenure, he has managed to preside over worse labor relations than his predecessor, Richard Atkinson, who retired two years ago. Workers from UCLA, UC Davis, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Berkeley National Lab and San Francisco plan to arrive in buses and caravans for a show of "respect" that will doubtless embarrass the highly compensated University officials and executives who occupy offices there. A picket sign spotted at UCLA and other campuses, reads: "$5.2 Billion in Reserves, $786 million in profits last year...Does that look like a budget crisis to you?"
The battle is over wages for the expired 2003-2004 Re-Opener bargaining process which went to impasse, a State-appointed Fact Finder, a judgment in the workers favor, and the University's subsequent refusal to grant increases recommended by the Fact Finder, Gerald McKay last February.
Workers have become outraged to learn that University Regents voted May 25th to increase the compensation of David Russ, Treasurer for the Regents, by an additional $170,900 61%--to a new base salary" of $450,000 per year. Yet UC Labor Relations Director, Howard Pripas, continues to offer a 0% increase to clerical workers for 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Threats of "discipline" and suspension, targeting worker activists have been reported throughout the University system over the last several weeks. "It's a total betrayal of the good-faith bargaining process," said a CUE spokesperson to the press at one campus. "We patiently played the 'impasse game' to its conclusion, won our case before the Arbitrator (McKay), and now the mighty University wants to say screw you, we don't care."
During an April 7, 2005, Subcommittee Hearing, State Senator Jackie Speiers called UC's actions appalling and unacceptable."
Clerical workers report that even the University's compensation studies show them making 20-30% less in wages than comparable job holders at Cal State University.