Dispute with UC Lingers; Senator Calls For Mediated Settlement


In July, roughly 8,500 University of California (UC) service workers went out on strike in protest of poverty wages. At this point there is no agreement between the workers and the UC Regents. Now, a mediated settlement has been presented to the UC administration. Senator Leland Yee, who joined workers represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME 3299) on the picket lines in July, is calling on the University to accept this new proposal.

Last month, the University asked Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, to mediate the collective bargaining between AFSCME 3299 and the UC. He has since put forward a series of recommendations to settle the dispute.

The UC workers have argued that these wages are forcing them to live in near poverty conditions. Despite the economic downturn, the university has the resources to bring these workers up to a living wage and lift them out of poverty. As the Vanguard reported last summer, much of the funding for these workers comes from the privately funded UC hospital system which has ample money to absorb a pay increase. Eighty percent of service worker salaries are not paid by state funds, but are paid under the UC hospital budget or are self-funded.

From last summer:

“At issue are poverty wages as low as $10 per hour. Many work 2-3 jobs and qualify for public assistance to meet their families’ basic needs. UC wages have fallen dramatically behind other hospitals and California’s community colleges where workers are paid family-sustaining wages that are on average of 25% higher. In addition, when workers have stood up for better lives for their families and better working conditions, the University has retaliated by violating labor laws.

96% of service workers are eligible for at least one of the following forms of public assistance: food stamps, WIC, public housing subsidies and subsidized child care, creating a potential burden for CA taxpayers. Increasing wages would not only help lift workers out of poverty, but could positively impact CA and the low- and moderate-income areas where UC workers live as they contribute more to their local economy.”

The University of California was able to pay its new president Mark Yudof $800,000, nearly doubling the salary of his predecessor. UC executives have consistently received double digit pay increases and bonuses on already exorbitant salaries. In addition, Regents have significantly increased student fees each year, making the state’s higher education system unaffordable for many students.

In a letter to President Yudof, Senator Yee wrote:

“In light of the University’s commitment to increasing executive compensation, it is an embarrassment that service workers are largely ignored by the UC administration. I strongly urge the University to immediately accept the mediated settlement. Mr. Pulaski has put forward a middle ground proposal that should be accepted by both parties.”

The mediated settlement proposal includes across the board increases of 5%, 3%, 3+1%, 3+1% for four years; year for year service credit steps; and a minimum rate of $14.50/hour by the end of the four year contract term.

“It is unconscionable what the UC administration has done to these workers and their families. The wages of UC service workers are dramatically behind other hospitals and California’s community colleges, where workers average twenty-five percent more for the same work. UC hospitals made over $371 million in profits last year, yet they refuse to provide the workers a fair wage. While UC executives live high on the hog, workers, students, and patients are left in the cold.”

According to the state-appointed, independent fact finder Carol Vendrillo, these low wages are a matter of priorities and not a lack of resources. She noted:

“UC has demonstrated the ability to increase compensation when it fits with certain priorities without any demonstrable link to a state funding source. It is time for UC to take a broader view of its priorities by honoring the important contribution that service workers make to the UC community and compensating them with wages that are in line with the competitive market rate.”

As the holiday season rolls around and people struggle to afford to buy their holiday gifts, it is important to remember those who are trying to get by on just $10 an hour from a system that still rolls in billions and pays its top executives high six-figure salaries.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Anonymous

    That's a couple. An individual making $10 an hour is getting $1600 per month minus expenses, plus the poor quality of health insurance.High on the hog? How about a basic living wage where they can afford the basics in life.How about the fact that most of the workers in addition to working for UC are also on public assistance? Doesn't that belie your claim???

  2. Anonymous

    You sound like a fool. Maybe you're not. Maybe you're a union hack. Either way, you don't know jack.How about a basic living wage where they can afford the basics in life.Basics? like cigarettes, booze, crack, cable TV, lottery tickets, beef jerky, boxed wine, fast food restaurants, fancy stereos? The problem with dumb people is they don't know what …basics… are. Go to Oak Park, where UCDMC is. You'll see lines of idiots loading up on crapola when the welfare checks come in the mail. Places like Burger King double their business the first two weeks of the month. Is a Double Whopper with Cheese basic?

  3. Anonymous

    Reading your post reminds me of Reagan's story from 1982:'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.'One problem, the maximum change people could receive for food stamps was 99 cents. Of course no one bothered to question the fact.We're talking in this case about people who are working a full time position having to receive public benefits because the job does not provide enough. In other words, you are paying for these people to receive medical coverage and any number of other things from the government.And yet you have a situation where their bosses are receiving 800K and other high ranking officials for UC are getting double-digit increases in their salaries.And somehow your focus is on the lowly workers. I question your wisdom and I question your priorities.

  4. Anonymous

    …Fast food is not a very healthy way to eat, but it is fairly quick and inexpensive….Dumb people make dumb choices, basics be damned.It costs less to buy high quality food at nonunion Costco and cook it at home. For the price of a high calorie, low nutrition fast food meal I can make a healthy meal for three at home. It's also good exercise to bike round trip to Costco and carry my groceries in my basket.

  5. David M. Greenwald

    Costco pays their workers a living wage and have better benefits than UC provides. That's why they are …non-union…–they don't need to be. Neither do Starbucks workers. If the whole work were like Costco and Starbucks, we probably wouldn't need unions. Unfortunately more companies are like Wal Mart and UC, proving everyday why we do.It does cost less to do that. My wife grew up in pretty bad poverty. Her mother would go to the fields early in the morning and yet had breakfast on the table and dinner at night. I have no idea how she had the energy to do that, probably why she passed away at such a young age. You can live pretty well on a huge bad of beans and flour if you have the energy to cook. A lot of people don't after a long day. It's hard to be judgmental towards them unless of course, you're you. You're also assuming a lot that you have not presented anything more than anecdotal (and questionable anecdotal evidence for). And yet, as we know most Americans eat like crap, regardless of income, why are we judging poor people more harshly than wealthier people. Up until six months ago, I was one of the worst offenders and I live fairly comfortably.

  6. Anonymous

    What's your rent? How many kids do you have?I don't currently live on $10 an hour. I choose to have a larger apartment because I have pets and like to have room. But if I wanted to downscale, I would go to a 1 bedroom and probably not have pets. I live in West Davis btw so those are the prices we are dealing with. I have no kids. Intentionally. Kids are expensive! It wouldn't make much sense if I popped out several kids and then expected to make enough money at my job to cover it.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    As a fellow West Davis renter, I don't think there is anyway you could live in West Davis on $10 an hour unless you had no family and lived with others who would split the rent.A one-bedroom at minimum is going to run someone $800 to $900. That's almost three-quarters of your take home you work 40 hour work weeks.I think you could probably live as a single person in West Sacramento on $10 an hour and be okay. Looks like a one-bedroom there for about $600. You could probably make that work somewhat uncomfortably.Any kind of family you'll be struggling. There's a reason why many people making these kind of wages are living on public assistance.

  8. PRED Old Timer

    OK let's break it down:$10 @ 40 hours a week over 52 weeks: $20,800.00So take home would be $1320 approx if you claim 0. So I'll meet you in the middle on rent (600 vs 900) take home $1,320.00 rent $750.00 utilities $70.00 phone $16.00 transportation $40.00 (bus pass)food $400.00 Those numbers assume the absolute minimums and with an employer who covers 100% of all your medical and dental including co-pays. One little thing that happens that's not to plan and you're behind.Left over for emergencies, clothing, or savings: $44.00 You could technically do it but your life frankly would be pretty miserable. Way to go UC…

  9. David M. Greenwald

    Thanks for the post Pred. And I have to say those numbers are pretty generous. Can you still get a phone for $16 per month, the cheapest I have gotten it when I was poorer was $25. $40 is pretty bare minimum for transportation.I think that paints a fairly accurate picture of how hard it would be to get by under good conditions even as a single person with no family.

  10. Anonymous

    take home $1,320.00rent $750.00utilities $70.00phone $16.00transportation $40.00 (bus pass)food $400.00 I still think you can live decently on $10 an hour in Davis. Agree to disagree, I guess.For me:transportation $0 (bus pass)I still resemble my undergrad reg picture…LOLfood $200.00 max (but then I eat almost vegetarian and make most of my meals at home and I'm small) 🙂

  11. Don Shor

    …I don't think there is anyway you could live in West Davis on $10 an hour unless you had no family and lived with others who would split the rent….No, you're right. The people I've known over the years who live on $10 an hour don't live in west Davis. Nearly all of them have lived in east or south Davis. They share houses or apartments, even if they have kids. I can't think of any (of several) who use or have used the bus primarily; they have bikes or old cars. Example 1: shares an apartment in east Davis with two others. Rent $500. Example 2: shares a house in east Davis with 2 others. Rent $350.Example 3: shares a house in east Davis with 2 others; sometimes a kid. Rent $400. Of those three, two don't have health insurance. I'm not saying any of this is easy. But lots of people live in Davis at close to $10/hour. There is no question that having kids makes it all much, much more difficult.The point of my earlier post was that …poverty wage… is a specific term with an actual meaning, which doesn't apply to any of the above. It probably also doesn't apply to many of the UC workers, but I don't know for sure because nowhere, in all of the coverage of this issue on this blog, has anyone indicated how many of the UC workers actually have children, live at poverty level, and/or qualify for public assistance.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    …96% of service workers are eligible for at least one of the following forms of public assistance: food stamps, WIC, public housing subsidies and subsidized child care…

  13. Anonymous

    David, 96% eligible for public assistance? Could you tell us where that figure came from? What percentage are receiving any of the types of assistance you mentioned? If a person is receiving some assistance, and making $10.00 per hour, on the average, what does the assistance raise their income level to? Just thought I'd ask the obvious instead of just throwing out something to see what kind of response I'd get.

  14. Offended

    …Places like Burger King double their business the first two weeks of the month. Is a Double Whopper with Cheese basic? …I find the point you make here both offensive and insensitive. Fast food is not a very healthy way to eat, but it is fairly quick and inexpensive. I suppose they could go the college student route and eat top ramen. I’m not sure what your objection is to here.I’d like to see us run better programs for the needy with better guidance and better support to help people make better choices, but then again that might cost more of your money and you wouldn’t want that. We are left with what we are left with.

  15. Anonymous

    …And somehow your focus is on the lowly workers….Are you daft? The story in the blog is about the workers, not the higherups.You never addressed what the first person said, who’s responsibility is it? to make sure the worker makes a salary high enough to afford his fast food addiction? the boss or the worker?

  16. David M. Greenwald

    …And somehow your focus is on the lowly workers….Are you daft? The story in the blog is about the workers, not the higherups.You never addressed what the first person said, who’s responsibility is it? to make sure the worker makes a salary high enough to afford his fast food addiction? the boss or the worker?Seems to me the story was about both.Part of the reason they cannot pay the worker’s better wages is the people at the top end are making a killing. And yet you are begrudging people who make $1600 per month rather than the people making $880,000 per year. I question your outrage.Whose responsibility is it? Those who make the decision to pay them a given rate. I would think you would be more upset that their wealthy employers are not paying enough to prevent you from having to provide them with public assistance. Bottom line: you will pay for it one way or another, I would rather do the right thing and pay them a decent wage.How do you know these people eat an inordinate amount of fast food or is that a mere stereotype you are trying to perpetuate in order to vilify people who work long hard weeks at a job you would never want to do.

  17. Don Shor

    …poverty wage… and …living wage… are both misused terms. A person making $10/hour is making $20,800/year. The federal poverty guideline (HHS, 2008) is $10,400. That wage earner gets to the poverty level only if there are three additional people in the household and no other income (the federal guidelines add $3600 per household member). I would be curious how many of these employees are actually at the poverty guidelines. So, for example, a single mother or father with three kids working at $10/hour is at poverty level. In my opinion, additional resources at taxpayer expense for that mother or father would be tax dollars well spent. That is what food stamps are for. I really don’t begrudge any parent using food stamps. I am often in line behind people in the grocery stores in Dixon who are using them, and while it is tedious (because of the cumbersome way they have to process them at the register) I have not seen the abuses that Ronald Reagan used in his stump speeches.

  18. Anonymous

    How many rich people eat their artichokes?Arthur Sindicato, known as Arti to his dog, was a real union-type loser. Every union job and every union idea he ever had turned out wrong. He thought to himself, if I went into business for myself, maybe, just maybe I can do well. He thought and he thought, what could he do. It came to him, he would be a HIT MAN.The next day he put a classified ad in the Davis Enterprise reading, …I am Arti, I will be your HIT MAN. Give me a call at 758-KILL and I will kill anyone you want rubbed out….Well that very day Arti receives his first call. The caller asks if it’s true that Arti would indeed kill anyone and Arti assured him that was the case.The man told Arti he wanted his wife killed. Arti said, …Fine, but how much will you pay me?… The man replied, …$1.00…. Arti said, …No way, bullets cost more than that. I’m a union man. I can’t work for no scab wages…. The man replied, …Look, take it or leave it. Many people would kill my wife for free, but I don’t want to be obligated….Arti thought it over and figured he could use the practice so he said, …OK, tell me about your wife, how can I find her?…The man said, …In the produce section at Nugget Market on Covell, every day at four o’clock she is there. She wears a yellow outfit and is always complaining about something….Arti decides that he will go there and strangle her. At least he will save himself the cost of bullets. Sure enough, she is in the produce department of Nugget complaining about the fruit being either too hard or too soft.Arti reaches behind her and wraps his hands around her throat. As she fall to the floor, she makes a gasp. The produce manager hears her gasp, turns around, sees what has happened and calls out. Arti lunges at the manager, presses his hands into the man’s windpipe and chokes him. Just as the manager falls to the floor, an overpaid UC administrator sees what has happened and she screams out. Arti knocks her down, takes her by the throat, chokes the life out of her and runs out of Nugget to the east. Thanks to the watchful eyes of a famous Davis blogger, Mr. Sindicato is captured not far away on Birch Lane. The next day the Davis Enterprise headline captures the entire affair:ARTI CHOKES THREE FOR A DOLLAR AT NUGGET PRODUCE AISLE!

  19. a nicer anonymous

    Mr. or Ms. Anonymous with a coal in your pocket…go have a candy cane since it seems like it may be the only sweet thing you may encounter.Scrooge!Give the workers a raise.

  20. Tired of the snarky and rude conservatives on here

    That’s pretty close to what happened with the University President, you only seem to complain when it’s a worker however.

  21. Don Shor

    A parent with one child qualifies for WIC at about $12.50/hour. In fact, a single pregnant woman qualifies for WIC at about $9.25/hour.For food stamps, it’s $6.26 – $12.76/hour, depending on the number of children (1 – 3 for those rates).For Section 8 housing, it’s 50% of the Area Median Income, which in Yolo County is about $41,000. So that works out to about $10/hour. I have no idea about subsidized child care.

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