Monday, July 14, 2008
On the Picket Line with Striking UC Workers
(July 18, 2008) In the early mornings of Monday and Friday of this week, I joined striking University of California service workers and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 3299 at UC Hospital on Parnassus. The strike is statewide and involves tens of thosuands of workers from across California. After a week of the strike Friday's picketers were still lively and spirited.
UC service workers do everything from transportation services and staffing the cafeterias to cleaning operating rooms and campus dorms. Many of them make poverty wages as low as $10 an hour that still qualify them for food stamps and other benefits for very low income people. Other hospitals and California's community colleges pay an average of 25% higher for the same work.
AFSCME had been negotiating a contract for over a year and has repeatedly reached impasse with UC who has refused to significantly increase wages nor allow for steps in pay for length of time working. For the past few years, turnover and recruitment difficulties have been common at UC campuses and hospitals. Meanwhile the UC Executives earn huge salaries with outrageous perks and bonuses.
The cost of running UC's hospitals and schools includes a living wage, health care, step increases and pensions for workers. Shame on UC for skimping on the workers.