Worker’s Union Holds Rally Demanding for Increased Wages for Employees


Image by Raya for The UCSD Guardian

Carter Castillo, News Editor

The University of California’s largest employee union, the AFSCME 3299, held a rally in front of the Chancellor’s complex at UC San Diego on May 17 in support of increasing wages for their employees in a campaign known as the Fight for $25/5.

The rally was one part of the larger demonstrations hosted by the union on the same date across all UC campuses. The AFSCME 3299 represents many different workers across the UC, including patient care and service workers. 

In a post on their Instagram account, AFSCME 3299 described their demands, of having a $25 per hour minimum wage for all UC workers and having a 5 percent wage increase for all members of the union who are already making $25 per hour.

Following the rally, the Associated Students of UCSD passed a resolution in support of the fight for $25/5 campaign.  

Rosa Mesa de García, a custodial staff member, described the circumstances which led to the union organizing this rally. 

‘“Lo que ganamos en la universidad realmente no nos está alcanzando para el costo de vida,” García said. “Ha subido mucho la renta, la comida y entonces es difícil llevar comida a las mesas, so estamos tratando de ganar un poco más para poder sobrevivir.”

“What we make at the university realistically has not reached the cost of living,” García said.“The price of rent and food has increased a lot, , and therefore it is difficult to bring food to the table, so we are trying to earn a little bit more so we can survive.”

One of the demands of the union involves changing the pay step schedule. A stepped pay schedule is where employees receive an automatic raise based on their experience in the position. 

Workers like Leticia Salas, a custodial staff member at Eleanor Roosevelt college, find the current salary and pay step schedule untenable given the current cost of living crisis and inflation. “Whoever sits on the top [of the step schedule] makes $23.50,” Salas said. The demands of the union include increasing the steps so that workers who spend a lot of time working for the university will make more.

Many of the workers take pride in their work and enjoy working with the students, which motivated them to fight for increased wages. 

“It’s like my second house, working for the students is like working for my kids, because I have four daughters and two are the same age as you guys,” Salas said. 

Many students showed up to sympathize and show support for the workers at the rally. Thurgood Marshall junior Summer Ismail expressed her show of solidarity with the demands of the union. 

“These are the people who help make the school beautiful, safe, accessible and make sure that it is working and they are literally the core and foundation of our school and the fact that they’re not being paid just a livable standard is so upsetting,” Ismail said.

However, attendees of the rally think that the work is not over, and argue for continued actions to have the university meet the demands of the union. 

“We can be louder, we can definitely call upon all kinds of student orgs, different student groups and have them come out here because it shouldn’t just be the workers,” Ismail said. “We have to acknowledge how important they are to our school and to our lifestyle,” she said. 

That being said, many of the workers expressed joy at the level of support they received from the University community. 

“Estoy muy feliz porque tenemos mucho apoyo a los estudiantes y tenemos mucho apoyo a los maestros,” García said.

“I am really happy because we have a lot of support from the students and we have a lot of support from the teachers,” García said.