UCSB administrators were confronted on two different occasions at Cheadle Hall yesterday by over a dozen physical facilities employees.
The workers, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local chapter 3299, expressed their grievances regarding a recent administrative demand that the chapter comply with systemwide furloughs. Attempting to bandage the university’s budget wounds, UCSB officials have proposed ceasing to exempt AFSCME from the 4 percent reduction in time.
According to a letter sent by UCSB administrators to Julian Posadas, executive vice president of local AFSCME chapter 3299, the proposed implementation of the reduction was not taken without extensive consideration.
“We want to also stress that with time and savings of the essence, the 4 percent reduction in time will need to be implemented until and unless agreement can be reached on a workable alternative,” the letter read. “Continuing to exempt AFSCME would not be fair to others at UCSB, most of whom have been enduring such reductions for a number of months now.”
Discontent with the university’s means of dealing with the budget shortfall, the service workers took to the fifth floor of Cheadle Hall to speak directly to Chancellor Henry T. Yang yesterday.
According to Ebelyn Hernandez, a fourth-year art major, the same group of workers picketed on campus last week in an effort to find alternative solutions to time reductions. In those picketing efforts, Hernandez said, the AFSCME members asked to set up a formal meeting with the chancellor, although she said the request was not honored.
Upon arriving, members of the union chapter found that the chancellor was not in his office and spoke instead with Senior Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Marc Fisher, Associate Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services Ron Cortez and UC police officers.
“The question is simple,” Posadas said. “Is the Chancellor willing to meet with us or not? Is he willing to meet with his workers?”
Both Fisher and Cortez refused to speak on behalf of Yang; however, the administrators said they would arrange a meeting between themselves and the workers.
In the letter to Posadas, authored by Fisher, Cortez and UCOP’s V.P. of Human Resources Dwaine Duckett, the officials said furloughs have been implemented throughout the UC system.
“Over 100,000 employees are on this furlough plan or a very similar version, including many of our unionized employees,” the letter read. “It would not be fair to exempt AFSCME, given the sacrifices being made by the overwhelming majority of the UC community (including other modestly paid workers, many of whom are also in unions).”
Overall, Cortez said the situation could be much worse, especially when compared to other campuses such as UC Berkeley, where Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau’s home was attacked by protesters throwing, among other things, flaming objects.
“You can get as angry as you want at the Chancellor,” Cortez said. “But this is taking place at other campuses as well.”