The Coalition of University Employees (C.U.E.), the union that represents University of California clerical workers, has re-opened talks with UC on wages, parking and health benefits.

Last May, C.U.E. members ratified a three-year contract for 2001-04 which covered wages and health benefits for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 fiscal years, but the contract left the 2003-04 fiscal year wage and health benefits open for later negotiation. For the remaining fiscal year, C.U.E. is asking UC for a 1-percent cost of living salary increase and a half-step merit increase for all eligible clerical workers. The union is also asking that health insurance and on-campus parking costs not increase.

“It costs more to work at the University and some people are falling behind,” said Carolyn Johnson, a UCSB C.U.E. bargaining team member.

Clerical workers and assistants are paid on a scale of steps, ranging from step one to step six. For each “satisfactory” performance evaluation an employees receive, they are eligible for a half-step increase on the scale, which yields a salary increase. C.U.E. wants all eligible clerical workers to receive the half-step increase as part of the new wage agreement.

“Our cost of living has gone up more than our salary increase,” Johnson said.

C.U.E. would like to impose the pay scale for library assistants as well. Johnson said a level two library assistant currently makes the same amount as an unclassified, or “blank” assistant.

“You have to have a college degree, and you have to know more than one language,” she said. “It takes a lot to be a library assistant.”