By Emma Zika
DAVIS – ASUCD passed a senate resolution on March 1 intended to oppose campus and system-wide layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ASUCD Senate recognized that COVID-19 related layoffs and pay cuts have disproportionately affected people of color and the working class.
The job market only restored nine million jobs out of 29 million lost due to COVID-19, and most of those restored jobs have gone to white workers. The senate resolution stated that jobs held by African American and Latinx workers have lagged in restarting compared to those of white workers.
The Latinx community was affected by the pandemic the most, facing a 19 percent unemployment rate, a 29 percent layoff rate and a 40 percent pay cut-rate.
Further, African American workers have reentered the workforce at a 2 percent slower rate than white workers and are continuously offered lower salaries with fewer benefits.
Additionally, the University of California has laid off 300 workers and threatened 3,000; those laid off also lost all healthcare benefits.
This disproportionate layoff pattern and pay cut rates are complicated by the University of California not seeking to renew their contracts with several unions and not operating in good faith with unions with current contracts.
The ASUCD has also recognized that most of the administration working on campus is white, and they are responsible for deciding the roles and benefits given to union members.
The majority-white administration is also responsible for the budget allocation of the 1.6 billion endowments and what programs the administration is willing to sponsor to benefit its employees, lecturers and professors.
The resolution stated that the University of California has a contract with AFSCME 3299, a union predominantly representing service workers, patient care workers and people of color, but has still threatened the jobs of 260 of its members.
The University of California has also not renewed its contracts with University Council AFT, a union predominantly representing contract faculty, librarians and teaching faculty.
These contracts have not been renewed for over a year, limiting University Council AFT members’ contract bargaining power.
This problem also affects CIR SEIU, a union representing residents and fellows at the UC Davis Medical Center.
They also have limited bargaining power to create contracts with the university to improve working conditions and patient care.
Finally, the senate resolution asked the University of California to consider the economic pressures during and outside the pandemic on its employees and lecturers.
According to the resolution, a UC lecturer’s starting salary of $56,900 is too low to afford the area’s average rent.
Many UC lecturers and employees have had to seek added employment within other job markets.
With the layoff and pay cut rates increasing during the pandemic, the struggle to afford necessities and find alternative work has only gotten worse for lecturers and employees.
UC lecturers and employees also struggle to argue for healthcare and retirement benefits without larger union support.
Therefore, the ASUCD has urged the University of California to act in good faith during contract negotiations and contract terms, renew their contracts with University Council-AFT and CIR SEIU and fulfill demands for increased job security and rehiring rights.
Emma Zika (she/her) is a 3rd-year Political Science and Economics major from Livermore, CA. She loves to volunteer at the Sacramento Family Justice Center.
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