Approximately 40 protesters marched from Tolman Hall to the residence of UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks early Wednesday evening to protest the University of California’s implementation of changes to patient-care employees’ wages and benefits last week.
AFSCME Local 3299, a union representing the patient workers, organized the unannounced protest in response to what they said were significant cuts being made to workers’ benefits under the new contract imposed last Wednesday. Protesters cited issues with changes to the patient-care technical unit contract, such as an increase in health insurance premiums, parking increases of up to 10 percent and reductions in paid leave.
Revisions to the plan for AFSCME workers also include a guaranteed step increase of 2 percent for eligible employees on or about July 1 as well as a guaranteed wage increase of 1.5 percent on or about Oct. 1.
“We’re not asking for a big package to go on vacation,” said Maricruz Manzanarez, a UC Berkeley senior custodian and bargaining team member for AFSCME. “We’re just asking to keep what we have.”
The protest largely comprised AFSCME-represented UC workers and a few supporting students. The protest culminated on the front lawn of the chancellor’s mansion, and protesters demanded to meet with Chancellor Dirks to voice their concerns.
The protest ended peacefully after protesters left the chancellor’s residence around 6 p.m. Union organizers say they plan to continue protests in the future.