After months of negotiation and even a boycott from actor Danny Glover, the University of California finally reached an agreement yesterday that will raise UCSB custodial workers’ salaries by $1.25 per hour effective immediately.
The contract, which was negotiated with the American Federation of State Municipal and County Employees union, applies to 14,300 UC service and patient care employees earning less than $40,000 annually. The agreement also ended a boycott initiated earlier this month at UC Berkeley, which included a canceled appearance from Glover – of “Lethal Weapon” fame – who was scheduled to speak at the university’s graduation ceremony.
The agreement allows custodial employees at UCSB, Berkeley and Santa Cruz to receive an initial retroactive raise of $1.25 starting April 1, and an additional $0.50 raise beginning Oct. 1 2007.
Custodians at other UCs – with the exception of workers at the UCSF Medical Center – will receive a $0.50 increase. According to a UC Office of the President press release, the wage disparity is due to the higher cost of living at the other three schools. Before the settlement, UCSB paid custodial employees a starting wage of $10.75 an hour, while the Santa Barbara Living Wage website pins the area’s cost of living at $13.40 hourly.
The agreement follows a negotiation impasse, in which former state senator John Burton was appointed as a contract mediator. Initially, the UC stated it would not provide wage increases for campuses like UCSB, claiming the custodial workers already received salaries above the average market level. At that time, the UC was willing to offer the same $4.3 million the 3,000 custodial workers will now receive; however, it was unwilling to distribute the money inequitably. The total cost to the UC, including the increases, amounts to $8.9 million.
Other AFSCME-represented employees will also receive pay raises. Workers earning less than $30,000 will receive a 2 percent increase, those receiving between $30,000 and $34,999 will get a 1 percent raise and workers with salaries ranging from $35,000 to $39,999 will receive an additional 0.5 percent.
AFSCME’s original request suggested a $1.75 per hour increase at UCSB, UCB and UCSC, as well as a $0.75 per hour increase at the remaining UC campuses.