Correction: In this article it was incorrectly stated that unionized custodial employees working for the UC received an additional 1 percent bonus to a 3 percent increase in wages. They received the 3 percent increase in 2005, but not the additional 1 percent.
The Daily Nexus regrets this error

Nine UCSB staff members and students traveled to Oakland yesterday to join some 600 unionized UC service workers and their supporters in their protest outside UC President Robert C. Dynes’ office to ask for higher wages.

UCSB Senior Custodian Andy Padilla said wage negotiations between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and the UC system began March 13 of last year, and a new round is expected to begin Feb. 21 this year. Custodial workers are currently paid $10 to $15 per hour, union representative Claude Piller said, but want to see wages increase to $14 to $19 per hour.

AFSCME – a nation-wide union – represents clerical, maintenance, technical and administrative employees, as well as the UC’s nurses.

“We’re not being treated fairly,” Padilla said. “Everyone’s pay is below the market rate.”

In previous discussions, the local AFSCME chapter and the UCSB administration negotiated disputes directly, but now these talks have expanded to the system-wide level. In reviewing the UC 2007-2008 budget next month, the Board of Regents has the power to allocate more money to UCSB to pay for wage increases.

The UC budget, however, is contingent on the state’s allocation of education funding, which UC officials say is inadequate to the needs of the system.

Piller said other UC system employees, such as those that work at Student Health, have recently received equity increases, and therefore UCSB should dole out the same funds to its workers.

According to the UCSB Human Resources Department website, employees are eligible for equity increases when they are “actively working, have performance of satisfactory or above” and meet one or more of five criteria, including additional duties added onto their position and external market inequity.

UCSB Human Relations Coordinator Nicole Savickas said that in 2006, custodial employees received a 4-percent pay raise. She also said that in 2005, custodial employees and union members both received a 3-percent raise; however, union members received an additional 1-percent bonus.

“We know lower-paid workers have more stress for wage increase,” Savickas said. “However, we want to distribute all funding in an equitable manner.”

Savickas said the funding for wage increases has not yet been provided to the UC system by the state, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recently released budget proposal does not include funding to meet this need.

“We don’t argue that wage increases are necessary,” Savickas said. “The low wages have been caused by years of state under-funding.”

While many students and faculty do not see the custodial staff working, Padilla said the services they provide are essential to the school’s operation.

“If you want quality, you have to pay for quality,” Padilla said. “This is more than just unskilled labor. We go through rigorous training for our jobs.”