The Coalition of University Employees labor union will hold a rally today in Storke Plaza at noon to garner support for its current labor negotiations with the University of Californa.

Bill Shiebler, Associated Students state affairs organizing director, said some students are also helping to host the rally. He said the rally is intended to promote awareness about the issues CUE is facing and to promote support for the coalition.

Representatives from CUE and the UC were in contract and wage negotiations Wednesday afternoon, with talks to continue today. Mary Higgins, CUE statewide president, said one of the main issues the union is contesting is the proposed closure of some UC campuses on Dec. 28 and 29. She said members of CUE are being forced by the UC to use vacation days on the 28 and 29, or go without pay for those days. Clerical workers not represented by a union will receive paid vacation time during the same period, she said.

“They’re saying if we don’t accept it, they’re going to basically lock us out, that they will not let us come to work and their people will stay home with pay and our people will either be forced to take vacation or go without pay,” Higgins said. “We just think it’s outrageous.”

Higgins said the UC’s net income for the 2003-04 school year reached $786 million, and the University has enough money in its unrestricted account to pay for wage increases for clerical workers.

“UC’s net income reached $786 million in 2003-04, and in the public sector that would be considered profit,” she said. “That’s … after all their expenses, all their debt for their constructions and everything else. They pocketed $786 million, which is shocking because they cry ‘poormouth.’ And in fact, UC’s overall budget that they get from the state is only about 14 percent. All other avenues of revenue went up. They had a banner year.”

But Peter Chester, assistant director of labor for the UC Office of the President, said the University can request money to be used for wage increases, but the final allocation to the UC is determined by the State legislature and the governor’s office.

“UC has a lot of control over what it requests and it works with the legislature with respect to its budget requests, but the final bill that the legislature brings forward to the governor and the governor signs, that’s something that’s up to both the legislature and the governor,” Chester said. “The union’s statement that the university has all this money in unrestricted assets is not really relevant as far as we’re concerned.”

Chester said the UC had requested increases in its budget to pay for wage raises, but did not receive the funding.

“For 2003-04 and 2004-05 the amount allocated by the state for wages was zero — even though the University requested money for wage increases from the state,” Chester said. “In fact, for 2003-04 at any rate, the amount we requested was 6 percent. In fact we got it cut from the state.”