Dear Students: As the people who cook, clean and care for you and your campus, the work we do is essential to the UC’s ability to provide you with a world-class education. Our work isn’t glamorous, but the purpose of our work is to support you — our future — and we take real pride in that. Today, we are engaged in a struggle with the UC administration over issues that affect us and our families deeply: retirement with dignity, wages and jobs that sustain us, as well as the ability to advocate for ourselves and the people we serve, like all of you.
At age 60, after 20-plus years of hard work, we will retire with permanent injuries, unaffordable healthcare and an average retirement income of $18,000/year. By contrast, UC President Mark Yudof can retire after just seven years of service to UC on more than $350,000/year, with decreased health insurance costs.
We pay for our retirement benefits each month of our working lives so that we can afford to stop working when we are old. We have foregone hefty raises for the promise of healthcare when our bodies are too broken to work. The UC Regents, however, have proposed changes to these benefits that will leave us impoverished: We would retire at age 65 — well past the point of physical ability — and for some of us, the increased cost of our health insurance would exceed our monthly retirement income. Yet our risk of work-related injury is only increasing.
UC now hires fewer custodians, maintenance workers and gardeners to clean your restrooms, fix the lights in your classrooms and make your campus clean and safe. Increasingly, this work is being done by people who work for outside contractors, make poverty wages with no benefits and have no rights at work. This creates unsafe working conditions for us, and poor conditions for your education.
For this, you are paying higher fees, yet the training and research you do while at UC is the foundation for what is a highly profitable university system. We think that the UC system can and should do better.
The UC system is the third largest employer in the state, impacts one out of 46 jobs in the state and reported an increase of $414 million in net assets last year. The University of California is an economic engine that can either help drive the state’s economy forward or help drag it down, but the administration is making further and deeper cuts to your education and our livelihoods. How will workers be able to retire if the UC continues to cut our pensions? How will you be able to earn your degree if the UC continues to raise fees and cut classes? How will California recover and grow if the UC system’s workers and graduates are living in debt?
As you see us on the picket line this month, please understand that we are putting our greatest effort into reaching a fair agreement with the UC administration — one that honors our dignity, safety and livelihoods, and that can help to restore the excellence that you deserve and should expect from the University of California.
President, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 3299
Oh please. Custodian, food service worker and gardener are jobs. They’re not long term career goals. Unskilled labor is a stepping stone to a career, not a career. Why do you deserve high wages and health care benefits when you do a job that anyone off the street can do? If you want these things., you have to work to put yourself in a position where your labor is scarce relative to Joe Blow- then you’re in a position to demand these things. If you’re counting on your gardening gig to take care of you in your golden years you’ve… Read more »
For the unskilled, life should be short, poor, nasty, and brutish.
That is what you’re saying, isn’t it?
No, just the unskilled who make poor decisions.
..and mop your floors.
Anton, stop with the class-based ignorance and put away your privileged prejudice. Some people don’t have parents to send them to college and then keep them at home till they launch their “careers.”
The problem is that with out a solution, things like pensions will continue to increase the cost of tuition. This in turn will make college affordable to even fewer people.
Not that it isn’t the only issue causing tuition to go up. But it does play a big role. 14% of the 2011-2012 UC expenditures went to employee and retiree benefits.
People are concerned about this. But at this time it seems everybody is taking a hit. This article fails to provide any clear solution to the problems at hand.
There is no need to inject a presidential campaign slogan into a serious issue. What is the solution? Pay everyone $50/hour and give them $100k per year after 5 years of service so they can retire? Probably everyone including the presidential sloganeers will agree this will not work (I hope they will agree). This whole debate comes in degrees and not absolutes. Clearly, there is a union trying to collectively bargain this up. There will be only so much a union can do to help with a job that doesn’t require a lot of skill. The points in this debate… Read more »
“The points in this debate go to the team that understands supply and demand and uniquely differentiated skills.”
Hmmm…Or, the points in this debate go to the team that understands the power that workers have to improve their own working conditions.
The workers don’t have much wiggle room because of supply and demand and their lack of differentiated skills…what do you want to bet they don’t make the salary of a professional in your lifetime?
I should add I’m all for collective bargaining. Banding together, shouting, protesting, throwing stuff, whatever will only go so far…It will cause some movement—not the kind of movement that an education or some other avenue will provide…