Students, Workers Unite Against UC Wage Disparity

    Former A.S. President Marco Murillo joins students and workers in a demonstration on Library Walk June 4 to support the university’s patient-care technical and service worker union in its bids for renewed contracts with the university. Rally organizers estimate that the head count peaked around 400. (Will Parson/Guardian)

    Hundreds of UCSD students and employees assembled yesterday
    on Library Walk to protest UC patient-care technical and service worker wages,
    which have been a growing source of contention since contract negotiations
    began more than 10 months ago.

    Demonstrators chanted, waved placards and gave brief
    speeches in a march that culminated with the chain of protesters encircling
    Chancellor Marye Anne Fox’s office complex.

    “We are fighting for humanity; we are fighting for justice,”
    Associate Vice President of Local Affairs Erin Brodwin said through a
    megaphone. “We are concerned about tragedies abroad, but let’s talk about the
    injustices that are happening right here at UCSD.”

    According to the American Federation of State, County and
    Municipal Employees — the union that represents the workers — salaries for the
    university’s patient-care technical staff have fallen 25 percent below the
    state average, and service workers make as little as $10 per hour. Thurgood
    Marshall
    College

    sophomore Daniel Nguyen likened workers’ grievances to students’ distaste for
    rising fees, which he said only pad administrative salaries.

    He said many students have trouble finding seats in classes,
    and urged students and employees to hold the administration accountable for
    leaving both groups at the bottom of its agenda.

    Nguyen cited incoming UC President Mark G. Yudof’s $828,000
    annual compensation package, Fox’s $8,916 auto allowance and UCSD CEO Richard
    Liekweg’s recent 20.2-percent wage hike and $70,105 bonus as evidence of a
    top-heavy university budget.

    After the Public Employment Relations Board fulfilled a UC
    request to issue AFSCME an injunction last week barring the union’s planned
    June 4 and 5 strike, All-Campus Senator Chris Westling sent an e-mail informing
    members of the Student Worker Collective and other campus activist groups that
    the rally, originally scheduled to coincide with the strike, would still occur.

    “The UC administration is just trying to delay this for as
    long as possible and divide the students and workers,” he wrote. “They want to
    drag this until after finals so that students will not be heard.”

    Jorge Olvera, a UCSD groundskeeper of 23 years who serves on
    the AFSCME service-worker bargaining team, said leaving people in poverty
    creates moral and economic problems.

    “In a way, they are creating this budget crisis,” he said.
    “They might as well just give new employees a business card that tells them how
    to get on public assistance. If you have more money, you will pay more taxes.
    It’s a cycle. For them to hide behind the state budget is not OK with us
    anymore.”

    Lead university spokeswoman Stacie A. Spector said Fox
    recognizes the university’s urgent need to compromise with the union.

    “It is the chancellor’s fervent hope that a mutually
    agreeable contract will be reached soon between AFSCME and the Office of the
    President,” she said in an e-mail. “UC San Diego’s employees are among our
    greatest assets, and Chancellor Fox is eager for negotiators for both UC and
    AFSCME to come together and reach an accord that will benefit our employees.”

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