A swarm of over 70 protesters marched to a campus administrator’s doorstep yesterday, demanding wage increases for UC service workers system-wide.

Students, service workers and union supporters chanted “No contract, no peace,” as they departed from the Arbor at noon and proceeded to Cheadle Hall, where the protesters assembled outside the 4th floor office of Donna Carpenter, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services. Next, the procession stationed themselves at the front of the building, where Ron Cortez, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services, and Cynthia Cronk, Director of Human Resources, confronted the crowd.

According to Julian Posadas, a representative from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the march was orchestrated to attract the attention of UC administrators, who are currently in negotiations with the union over a new contract for service workers.

“We’re expecting a group of campus leaders to come address our executives over a contract,” Posadas said. “We are still pretty far apart, but this is a good opportunity to meet with the UC. [Workers] have gone a year and a half without a raise, and they’re frustrated. There are plenty of cases where workers have lost their homes already – they’re out being forced to take on two or three jobs just to make ends meet.”

The wage war between AFSCME and the UC began back in October of 2007. Since then, negotiations over service workers’ salaries have remained gridlocked. Posadas said the union and its supporters are demanding a guaranteed wage increase for the 8,500 service workers employed throughout the UC system, whose current pay scale he characterized as dismally low.

Standing before the crowd, Cortez and Cronk issued a statement citing the UC’s willingness to collaborate with AFSCME.

“As far as I know, there were negotiations over the weekend,” Cronk said. “We are hopeful that a contract is in sight. AFSCME deserves a good contract. These are good people and we are hoping for a good contract.”

Unsatisfied with spoken promises, protesters urged administrators to produce a written guarantee of their support.

“Workers have been waiting for [a letter of support] but it’s all verbal,” Posadas told the administrators in front of their offices. “If we can get it today, that would be great. But if not, we’ll have to come back.”

Moments later Cortez and Cronk retreated into Cheadle Hall to notify the Chancellor of the group’s demands.

When the two administrators reemerged they presented Posadas with a letter of support from Chancellor Henry T. Yang. The letter, however, was dated from July 1, 2008.

In response to the disgruntled crowd’s rejection of the outdated document, Cronk said the complexity of the bargaining demanded time.

“Negotiations are never easy,” Cronk said. “Collective bargaining is a difficult process,”

Around one o’clock, the protesters began to trickle out, and the protest dispersed within several minutes.