Fourteen union members gathered in front of Haas Pavilion on Thursday night with flyers and posters to spread awareness about December layoffs in UC Berkeley’s Campus Shared Services.
In the wake of 28 layoffs within the CSS system, members of the Teamsters Local 2010 and UPTE unions handed out flyers and collected signatures about 5:30 p.m. while people filed into Haas Pavilion for the Cal men’s basketball game. The flyers shared the results of a CSS satisfaction survey that Teamsters released Jan. 6. Teamsters alleged that respondents — including faculty, staff and students — had expressed discontent with the lack of communication about layoffs and administrative support.
“My hope is that people really begin to pay attention to what is going on at this campus,” said Keith Uriarte, Teamsters regional director. “It’s not just about workers losing their jobs — it’s a system that was created.”
CSS is a program initiated in 2011 to increase administrative efficiency and savings across UC Berkeley by unifying services that used to differ across departments, such as payroll and hiring. In order to standardize processes and improve efficiency, CSS management began planning for a staff reduction last year when they consolidated internal administrative functions and eliminated noncritical work.
In November, CSS Chief Operating Officer Peggy Huston sent an email to all CSS staff that included a Q&A explaining how CSS directors, managers and supervisors had yet to finalize a plan to meet the fiscal year 2016-17 budget. The email confirmed that CSS would ultimately resort to reducing staffing.
CSS officially laid off workers Dec. 8 because of a lack of funds and lack of work, said Carole Love, campus administration and finance spokesperson, in an email. According to Love, CSS “used all possible approaches” — including the layoffs — to streamline internal organization in order to meet the fiscal year 2016-17 budget, which was reduced by 10 percent from the 2015-16 budget.
According to Henry Brady, dean of Goldman School of Public Policy, the Teamsters survey was “not a fair and balanced survey.”
“There’s legitimate concerns we all have about CSS, but it’s not clear to me that this survey will be particularly helpful in diagnosing what these problems are,” Brady said.
Uriarte, however, said the survey was an attempt to solicit explanations from people who were potentially impacted by the CSS budget cuts.
“Really we just want information and have a dialogue and consider other options rather than laying people off … especially with the layoffs being announced right before the holidays,” said Dan Russell, a member of UPTE and current CSS employee who aided in handing out flyers Thursday.
Teamsters currently has two pending grievances filed against CSS, and CSS managers and campus labor relations representatives plan to meet with Teamsters members to address further concerns about the layoffs.