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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Santa Cruz Indymedia | Education & Student Activism | Labor & Workers
UC Service Workers Overwhelmingly Vote Yes On Historic Contract Agreement
97% of Service Workers Vote Yes To New Contract That Will Start To Lift Thousands of Families Out of Poverty
Oakland, CA - UC Service Workers voted yes to accept the historic contract agreement with the University of California that will start to lift thousands of families out of poverty. After a year and a half of bargaining, custodians, gardeners, food service workers and drivers voted to accept this historic agreement that will include significant wage increases, a pay system that rewards seniority and a first time ever statewide minimum wage for their job classifications.
"After a year and half of negotiations, this is truly a historic day. We have gone on strike, held informational pickets, lobbied, ran television commercials and many other things that were key to get UC executives to do the right thing and readjust their priorities from executives to the lowest paid workers at UC." expressed Lakesha Harrison, President, AFSCME Local 3299.
This new agreement includes wages increases over five years of 4%, 3%, 3%, 3%, and 3%. For the first time, UC service workers will have a state wide minimum wage that reaches $14.00/hour by the end of the contract. In addition the contract includes the adoption of a fair pay system that gives employees credit for their service and dedication to the University. The agreement also includes stronger benefits protections.
"This has been a truly historic fight for all of us. For years, we have been struggling to make ends meet each month on UC's low wages. Finally UC executives have recognized their moral responsibility to provide a wage increase that will start to lift us and our families out of poverty, and provide better jobs in our communities" stated Kathryn Lybarger, Gardner, UC Berkeley.
After a year and a half of bargaining, the negotiations over this contract were able to move forward when Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, stepped in to serve as a mediator. "In addition to the fight that service workers waged to win this historic contract, the skillful negotiation abilities of Art Pulaski were crucial in putting the final pieces of this deal together. We appreciate his time and effort to help secure this historic contract" stated Ms. Harrison.
Throughout this contract fight, service workers have received strong and wide support. This support includes former President Bill Clinton, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Retired General Wesley Clark, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Speaker Karen Bass, State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, State Senators Leland Yee, Gil Cedillo, and Gloria Romero, Assemblymembers Anthony Portantino and Julia Brownley and Congress members Barbara Lee, Henry Waxman and Hilda Solis. Their support has included multiple letters, meeting with UC leadership, speaking and appearance boycotts at UC campuses and other forms of public support.
"This is a good settlement. It will give some of the lowest paid workers at the greatest university system in the world enough of a salary to meet the minimum needs of their families," Lieutenant John Garamendi, a UC regent said. "It should also be noted that only a small portion of the worker's contract comes from the state budget."
"We appreciate the strong support of many of California's leading elected officials and community organizations. Lt. Governor Garamendi, State Senator Leland Yee, Speaker Karen Bass, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, State Senator Gloria Romero, State Senator Gil Cedillo, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, CLUE and other religious leaders, and many others helped convey the importance to the leadership of the University to get a fair and just contract for service workers. We appreciate their support for starting to end poverty wages at UC" state Ms. Harrison.