University of California Service Workers Strike to End Poverty Wages
by James Parks, Jul 14, 2008
Some 8,500 employees of the University of California went on strike today to demand better pay and a fair contract. The workers, members of AFSCME Local 3299, include housekeepers, cafeteria workers and those who disinfect hospital equipment. The five-day strike is set to run through Friday at the university’s 10 campuses and five medical centers.
Says Mario Pinto, a senior custodian at the UC-Santa Cruz campus:
We are living with our whole family together, our kids and grandkids, packed in one house, but we still can’t get by because everything is so expensive….It is a very critical situation for us. We can’t live in peace. We always have to be thinking about how are we going to make it next month and put food on the table for the kids.
Last month, workers at UC campuses and supporters across the country rallied for a fair contract for the university workers. For nearly a year, workers have been trying to negotiate a deal that would pay a decent wage.Read More
A recent study by the Center for Labor & Community Research and the Partnership for Working Families showed UC workers are paid significantly less than workers at other hospitals and universities in the state.
The report finds that UC workers are paid about 25 percent less than the “market rate” for similar workers in their communities. According to the report, if the workers were paid “market rates,” the resulting economic benefits would include $147 million more spending on local goods and services, $23 million in greater profits for local businesses, $9 million in additional state and local tax revenue, and nearly 900 new jobs.
Yet, UC medical center top executives recently pocketed big raises and bonuses. According to a Local 3299 fact sheet, the salaries of medical center chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief nursing officers (CNOs) were increased by up to 39 percent in the fall. The CEOs and CNOs also received bonuses of up to $83,000—a one-time payment in addition to any salary increase.
On its website, the union says the university’s latest offer is “insulting” and the proposed package offers no guaranteed wage increases for the majority of service workers, does not fund merit steps and does not guarantee benefits.