Acting on behalf of nearly 120,000 University of California workers, a few local union representatives marched to Cheadle Hall yesterday to oppose UC-wide wage reductions for non-union workers.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spokeswoman Faith Raider said the University is proposing an 8 percent pay cut – possibly including pension plan cuts – to UC low-wage workers at next month’s UC Regents meeting.
The protest marks the one-year anniversary of another AFSCME strike that ultimately led to a raise in the minimum wage of UC workers to $9.27. Union members throughout the UC-system held similar protests.
Raider said the pay cut would reverse the effects of last year’s strike.
“Workers feel like they will be losing what they gained last year,” Raider said.
Although the pay cuts do not directly affect union workers, Raider said it was important to support non-union workers to ensure that the University bargains fairly in the future.
“The University wants to unilaterally impose changes on the work force that doesn’t have a union because they don’t have a say in it,” Raider said. “It’s bad if the University attacks the weakest workers first because they are not bargaining in good faith.”
At last year’s on-campus strike, groundskeepers, custodians, food servers and other workers went on strike to protest being the lowest paid employees on campus.
“Basically, the workers are living in poverty,” Raider said. “They still work two or three jobs to support their families.”
AFSCME union representative Claude Paluer said the 8 percent pay cut would push workers further into poverty.
At yesterday’s protest, Chancellor Henry Yang met protesters in the Cheadle Hall lobby and said he was open to hearing what union representatives had to say.
Paluer said she was pleased with Yang’s response.
“We are thankful that he hears what we have to say,” Paluer said. “We need more like him.”
UC labor wages cannot be cut more than they have been, Raider said, as the wage level is already too low. She said California State Universities have wages that are 25 percent higher than at the UC.
If the Regents pass the wage cut plan, Paluer said, another strike may be in store for the University in the near future.