In response to a recent study compiled by their union, custodial workers at UCSB and throughout the University of California system hope to raise their wages by getting enough student, staff and faculty support on a petition.

The study, conducted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) claims UC employees earn almost one-third less than the average custodial worker at the California State University and community college systems. Another study requested by the UC, however, claims a smaller disparity between the workers’ salaries.

AFSCME’s study also shows that top UC executives such as UC President Robert Dynes earn up to 94 percent more than executives at CSU and community colleges. AFSCME represents nearly 18,000 UC employees, including custodial workers.

According to an AFSCME press release, over 2,000 UC workers have signed the petition asking state legislators to investigate the disparity in salary between UC executives and other employees. Union representative Claude Pill said he did not know when AFSCME would conclude its petition campaign.

Pill said the average pay of UC custodial workers is $12.50 per hour, while the other school systems pay their workers an average of $16.50 per hour. He said he hopes the petition will urge the University to bring wages up to par with market salaries.

Student organizations such as the UCSB Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) are participating in the campaign by having their peers sign the petition between classes. SLAP member and first-year global studies major Lindsey Quock said she believes UC custodial workers deserve higher wages.

“UC custodial workers get paid up to 26 percent less than how much Cal States and city colleges pay their custodial workers,” Quock said. “That’s kind of a ridiculous statistic. Custodians are essential to our well-being on the campus.”

UC spokesman Noel Van Nyhuis said the University is currently investigating the wage disparity.

“UC has already begun a total compensation study,” Van Nyhuis said. “Our Regents have already taken bold steps to increase the wages.”

Van Nyhuis said Mercer Human Resource Consulting – at the behest of the UC – also conducted a study in Sept. 2005 of the UC’s wages and compensation packages. The study found that, while the UC offers above-average health and retirement benefits, UC salaries are behind the comparative market average by approximately 15 percent.

Van Nyhuis said the UC has responded to the workers and considers their concerns a high priority.

“We take these issues seriously, and we know where we stand in the market,” Van Nyhuis said.

The UC Regents have already considered a proposal, titled RE-61, to fix the disparity, Van Nyhuis said. Although RE-61 also examines how to properly fund UC executives, the document states the UC will obtain and direct funds to raise wages for all groups of employees, including those in AFSCME. The goal of RE-61 is to achieve market comparability for all wages over a 10 year period, from 2006 through 2016.