UC Service Workers Come To Contract Agreement

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Take First Step Out of Poverty with Historic Contract

imageUC Davis

After more than seven months since a week of strikes press for new negotiations, over 8500 UC Services workers reached agreement with the University of California that union officials lauded as the first step to lift thousands of families out of poverty. The agreement includes significant wage increases, a pay system that rewards seniority and a first time ever statewide minimum wage for their job classifications.

According to a release from AFSCME 3299, here is a statement from Kathryn Lybarger, who is a Gardner at UC Berkeley:

“This has been a truly historic fight for all of us. For years, we have been struggling to make ends meet each month on UC’s low wages. Finally UC executives have recognized their moral responsibility to provide a wage increase that will start to lift us and our families out of poverty, and provide better jobs in our communities.”

Lakesha Harrison, President, AFSCME Local 3299:

“After a year and half of negotiations, this is truly a historic day. We have gone on strike, held informational pickets, lobbied, ran television commercials and many other things that were key to get UC executives to do the right thing and readjust their priorities from executives to the lowest paid workers at UC.”

“We appreciate the strong support of many of California’s leading elected officials and community organizations. Lt. Governor Garamendi, State Senator Leland Yee, Speaker Karen Bass, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, State Senator Gloria Romero, State Senator Gil Cedillo, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, CLUE and other religious leaders, and many others helped convey the importance to the leadership of the University to get a fair and just contract for service workers. We appreciate their support for starting to end poverty wages at UC.”

This new agreement includes wages increases over five years of 4%, 3%, 3%, 3%, and 3%. For the first time, UC service workers will have a state wide minimum wage that reaches $14.00/hour by the end of the contract. In addition the contract includes the adoption of a fair pay system that gives employees credit for their service and dedication to the University. The agreement also includes stronger benefits protections.

Lt. Governor John Garamendi and a UC Regent released a statement:

“This is a good settlement. It will give some of the lowest paid workers at the greatest university system in the world enough of a salary to meet the minimum needs of their families. It should also be noted that only a small portion of the worker’s contract comes from the state budget.”

This is one of the key points. For those wondering why the lowest paid workers would get a raise during these budget times, the majority of funds do not come from the state budget as we have mentioned in the past. Instead they come from the proceeds from the quasi-private hospital profits.

Just a week and a half ago, about 60 workers went to the San Francisco office of UC Regent Richard Blum. The purpose of their visit was to try and talk to him directly regarding their contract. During their visit, the workers asked to meet and/or talk with Regent Blum in person or by telephone. When Regent Blum denied their request, 20 of these low wage service workers sat down and refused to leave.

At the time, President Yudof’s response to the worker demands was to ask that these actions stop despite independent analysis that shows something like 96% of the 8500 UC Service workers receive low enough wages to qualify for some form of public assistance.

Despite the rhetoric from the President, the action seemed to push the process forward and resulted in an eventual contract for the workers.

State Senator Leland Yee has been a strong advocate for the workers from the start.

“I am pleased that the University finally reached an agreement with the service workers. These are tough economic times for everyone, but even more so for these low-wage workers and their families. This new contract is well-deserved and much-needed. While this contract brings the University one step closer to ending poverty wages for all workers, it is imperative that the UC also provides shared governance of the employee pension plan – a role every other public pension plan in the state provides workers.”

This contract seems to be a good start toward moving these workers toward more competitive living wages in the future. It has been a hard fought and long battle, but the workers and their representatives seem excited about the outcome.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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13 thoughts on “UC Service Workers Come To Contract Agreement”

  1. Mike

    I wish to appologize for my previous comment. It was insensitive and I clearly had no compassion for those going through tough financial times. I will try to spend more time thinking about hte needs of others and less about my ideological preconceptions.

  2. Anonymous

    Taxpayers will pay eventually. Given that this is three percent per yr. over five years the bill will only grow. I’m not opposed to people getting a raise but I am struggling to understand how this was a prudent decision in this fiscal environment. Also tough to see how this will impact other employees in the system who are likely to not be receiving raises.

  3. Anonymous

    Yes, I know that but after the five years is over what source of funding will be identified then, and what becomes of the other UC workers who don’t have powerful labor unions representing them? Where do they turn for help?

  4. David M. Greenwald

    What workers are you referring to? Almost all university employees with the exception of the faculty are represented by one union or another. These workers were bottom on the pay scale by a good margin.

  5. Anonymous

    Interesting… these workers are not subject to the Governor’s furlough (per 1/30 Bee article) but similarly paid SEIU workers elsewhere in the state system ARE… so, I must assume, all lower paid public employees are equal, but some are more equal than others…

  6. David M. Greenwald

    UC workers are separate from state workers. They are paid by the state, but they are hired by UC which is somewhat separate. Now at some point they may get IOUs if the state runs out of money. But the UC Regents make the budgetary decisions for UC workers, not the Governor. The Governor only controls one revenue stream to the University. The University gets money from the state, but is not run by the state nor do they get all of their money from the state.Is that clear as mud?

  7. Anonymous

    yes… clear as mud… as I understand it, ‘operating’ expenses… come either from the ‘state budget’, or from tuition/fees… except for out of state students, don’t both of these come from taxpayers?

  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous @ 9:20 something wrote an observation. ALL employees of the State may be looking @ IOU's. but University employees are ONLY looking @ IOU's, not furloughs, (diminution of pay which may affect retirement benefits, including those who are NOT covered under Social Security). However, the SEIU employees 'locked in' a multi-year contact that exceeds current (city & school district) COLA's for other public employees… so, professionals should take greater "hits" in a crisis? How about taxing aviation related attorneys (& public employees) 50% of their income over $100 k, (for example) and using that to fund city/school district needs?

  9. Anonymous

    Who’s kidding who here? The taxpayers pay for everything. What the taxpayers really need now are more union leeches to pay, right. The UC system has 8 or 9 unions within it. There is no equality of pay for anyone. But you can bet the paid union structure is taking a large share from the workers, and the taxpayers that pay those workers. Unions should be removed from Public Employee Systems. The employees were treated quite well until the arrival of unions. You can also thank that idiot grey davis for signing in a fair share agency to steal from you.

  10. David M. Greenwald

    First of all, if you understood the financing, they are not paid for by the taxpayers. Second of all, how would you propose you get rid of a union? They have a legal right to exist and there is no way you going to eliminate them from public sector jobs.And third, for what these guys get paid, why would you want to? It’s not like these guys are getting $150,000 like some of the city employees in davis. You’re talking maybe $10 per hour, maybe slightly more.

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