UCSB students and maintenance workers unexpectedly marched into Chancellor Henry Yang’s office yesterday afternoon, demanding higher wages and criticizing parking fees.
Roughly 15 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union members and several students traveled from Davidson Library to Yang’s Cheadle Hall office to speak with the chancellor. While Yang said he understood the group’s concerns, he said he did not have the sole authority to change workers’ wages or decrease the parking fees they currently pay.
Several UCSB administrators later joined the discussion, including Acting Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Donna Carpenter, Dean of Students Yonie Harris, Labor Relations Manage not Leslie Sanchez and Employee and Labor Relations Representative Doug Kierbel.
Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) member Lindsey Quock, who marched with the group, said Yang was in the midst of another meeting, but came out of his office 20 minutes later to speak with the marchers. Quock, a first-year global studies major, said Yang told the group he could not change the wages and rules affecting the workers.
“The chancellor was very receptive, but did not have the jurisdiction or the authority to bargain with the workers,” Quock said.
Quock said the group wanted the chancellor to know that overnight facilities management workers are currently charged $15 per month to park on campus. The workers were not charged for parking in 2005, she said.
Citing a recent study compiled by AFSCME, Quock said University of California custodial workers are paid almost 26 percent less than their counterparts in the California State University system and city colleges. Currently, AFSCME members are collecting student, faculty and staff signatures for a petition to be sent to state legislators, which explains the wage disparity and requests an investigation into the matter.
As of Thursday, Feb. 10, AFSCME representatives said the union had collected roughly 2,000 signatures throughout the UC campuses.
Because Yang cannot remove the parking fee, Quock said the group will instead speak with the UCSB Parking Ratepayers Board — the group responsible for imposing parking fees. The board is composed of three university administrators, three faculty and three students.
In a statement made Monday evening, Yang said he recognized and commended the “essential and important services” provided by the workers.
“I greatly appreciate the work all our staff does and their loyalty and service to our campus,” Yang said. “I will share their concerns with my fellow chancellors and systemwide bargaining representatives at UC [Office of the President] in an effort to continuously improve working conditions and the quality of life for all employees.”
Quock said AFSCME workers and several UCSB students have planned to meet with Labor Relations Manager Leslie Sanchez on Feb. 27 to discuss wages.
Quock said she felt the chancellor understood the concerns of the workers.
“We were in there for at least a half hour, maybe 45 minutes,” Quock said. “The ball is definitely rolling. We know the chancellor has heard us.”