UC Workers on Strike for Fair Wages, Pensions

BY HANK REICHMAN

Today more than 12,000 University of California (UC) administrative, clerical and support workers, members of Teamsters Local 2010, walked off the job to protest numerous unfair labor practices and violations of state law committed by the UC administration. The walkout at all ten UC campuses, five medical centers and three national laboratories culminates five days of action that began last Friday at UCLA when some 600 skilled trade workers, also members of Local 2010, went on strike there.

While executive compensation in the UC system has increased by 58 percent, total operating revenue is up 80 percent and in-state tuition has grown by a whopping 332 percent during the past decade, real wages for administrative, clerical and support workers has actually declined 24 percent during the past 20 years, according to Teamsters’ President James P. Hoffa.  A 2015 Economic Policy Institute report found 92 percent of these workers struggle to afford the basic necessities. Meanwhile, an October 2016 Occidental College study, which I reported previously on this blog, found that 70 percent of these UC workers don’t earn enough to put sufficient food on the table for their families.

In addition, according to Hoffa, “The UC Board of Regents are also trying to move these same workers from a secure defined benefit pension to a risky 401(k)-style plan that will decimate income replacement and make workers subject to the whims and fees of Wall Street.”

More than 80 percent of these workers are women, 63 percent are people of color, and 58 percent hold Bachelor’s degrees.

Hoffa is right: “Working people need to earn enough to support their families now and themselves in retirement. That is what these thousands of UC workers want to do. Everyday workers deserve to be treated with the same dignity as those at top of the ladder. UC has found the dollars to treat its top executives right. We ask now that they do the same for the rest.”  UC President Janet Napolitano should direct her administration to negotiate a fair contract with meaningful raises and secure pensions now.

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