Union members gathered in front of California Hall on Tuesday afternoon to protest the December layoffs in UC Berkeley’s Campus Shared Services and submit a petition signed by those in opposition to the staff reduction.
After 28 CSS system employees were laid off in December, members of the Teamsters Local 2010 and UPTE unions staged a leafleting event Jan. 21 in order to raise awareness about what they alleged was mishandling of the layoffs. Tuesday’s attempt to deliver a petition directly to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and John Wilton, vice chancellor for administration and finance, was another effort by the unions and CSS workers to call attention to their as-of-yet unaddressed frustrations.
CSS was initiated in 2011 to unify campus services, such as payroll and employment, that had previously been divided by department. CSS officially laid off workers Dec. 8 because of a lack of funds and lack of work, according to Carole Love, campus administration and finance spokesperson.
The Tuesday rally began about noon, when protesters congregated in front of California Hall, some holding signs with messages such as “Don’t lay off staff! Fix CSS!” Fifteen minutes later, Debra Harrington, the director of labor relations at UC Berkeley, accepted the petition — which featured 233 signatures — on behalf of Dirks.
Teamsters representative Elise Magno-Jardinico said her union has filed two grievances against CSS, which claimed that the campus had violated union articles by reassigning its workers’ duties, among other allegations.
According to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, UC Berkeley Labor Relations representatives have met with Teamsters representatives to discuss the layoff process and opportunities for re-employment. Gilmore added that the Labor Relations division is still processing one of the grievances.
“Our goal is to ensure that everyone has accurate information regarding the layoffs and resources to help laid off workers locate new jobs on or off campus,” Gilmore said in an email.
Joseph Meyer, a CSS human resources employee and a member of Teamsters, alleged at the rally that CSS’s bureaucratic inefficiencies had contributed to the layoffs.
“We have more management than staff members, pretty much,” Meyer said. “They keep hiring more managers to manage the staff members, but they come up with no real solutions and they don’t talk to us.”
Although Meyer was not laid off in December, he said he fears losing his job in the near future because of continuing budgetary problems within CSS and the campus’s alleged inattention to them. Meyer singled out Dirks for not addressing the protesters, saying that “he’s a coward, and he’s not my chancellor.”
According to Jean Day, president of UPTE-CWA Local 1, the union is waiting to receive further information from the campus about structure, budget and staffing, which the union needs “to determine next steps to avoid additional job losses.”
Senior staff writer Andrea Platten contributed to this report.