Local union members will stand alongside students today to protest UC spending practices, showing acts of protest such as picketing and the delivery of cat food to UCSB administrators at Cheadle Hall.
Demonstrators will begin protesting outside Cheadle Hall at 8 a.m. and will migrate to the Arbor at about noon, displaying their strong objection to the high wages seen within the over- all UC system — such as UC President Mark Yudof ’s receiving an annual pension of $230,000 after serving as president for just five years.
The cat food demonstration is being used because AFSCME Local 3299 — a union for UC employees — claim service workers for the University receive only enough money to afford pet provisions, according to Internal Organizer Vanessa Guzman. The afternoon protest at the Arbor will also include picket lines, protests and engagement with students and faculty, which all aim to highlight concerns regarding UC management.
Such concerns, Guzman said, include the UC system’s decision to increase executive compensations which are being subsidized by tuition hikes and cuts on both student healthcare and service worker wages.
Within the last ten years, student fees have risen by 300 percent, according to Guzman, who the UC should turn away from frivolous spending practices and instead focus more on the needs of students.
“We feel UC priorities should be with providing good education and not running something like a good business or corporation,” Guzman said.
The union will also be delivering a letter to UCSB administrators, with the document expressing opposition to UC pay decisions.
“The letter explains that the UC could actually be saving billions of dollars over the course of the four years, if they would do their financial analyses differently,” Guzman said. “We’ve been in negotiations with the UC for several months now about things that are important to workers like wages and good health care.”
In spite of these efforts, Guzman said university officials have continually neglected the concerns of workers and students.
“The UC has not accepted any of our major proposals,” Guzman said. “There has been no major movement at the table.”
She said the demonstration is taking place since service workers’ previous contracts will be expiring today. “It is the last day,” Guzman said. “The workers felt the need to make their voices heard and
they’re coming out to put pressure on the university, saying, ‘We’re not just going to sit by while you make millions of dollars and we are the ones hurting.’”
AFCSME 3299 represents all service workers within the UC, including custodians, maintenance personnel, gardeners, cooks and nurses at Student Health.
A recent press release issued by the union states UC executives receive pension payouts exceeding $10,000 per month while low-wage UC workers receive up to $1,000 per month.
Such a gap in wages is “outrageous,” Guzman said, since the former pay of low-paid workers will actually be funding the excessive pay being given to top officials.
“One of our main messages for tomorrow is that service workers are the lowest paid workers, but they’re going to actually be subsidizing executive pay with all of the cuts that the UC is proposing,” Guzman said.
According to Jacqueline Partida, an intern at AFSCME and organizer for the UCSB Student-Worker Coalition, today’s protests will unify students, faculty and service workers alike.
“We want to bring awareness for what is currently happening for people working on campus,” Partida said. “They’re the people doing our mopping and cooking. It’s invisible work … By doing this demonstration, we’re going to build the student-worker solidarity throughout the campus.”
While uniting students, the demonstration will also draw attention to the injustices of the UC, and fairly represent the human rights of UC workers, Partida said.
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of January 31st, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.
Photo courtesy of indybay.org.