Campus sheds light on rationale for insourcing formerly subcontracted workers

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After more than a year of demonstrations by campus subcontracted workers, UC Berkeley has decided to officially insource some of its subcontracted staff, primarily for campus community-oriented purposes.

UC Berkeley reached this decision March 18 as a result of its desire to improve building accessibility for students and faculty, the expiration of its contract with the company that directly employs the campus’s parking attendants and increasing concerns within the community about low-wage workers, according to an email from campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

Since last summer, the campus has been working to insource the custodial night staff for “operational reasons” aimed at increasing “academic and administrative use of buildings during the early evening,” Mogulof said in the email.

But the recent agreement — reached by campus labor relations and administrative staff, the UC Office of the President’s labor relations staff and AFSCME — adds to the campus’s existing insourcing plan, Mogulof’s email said.

“This agreement builds on the plan and streamlines the hiring process,” Mogulof said in his email.

The campus already had plans in the works to insource or fill vacant positions for at least 55 custodians prior to the recent agreement, but the March 18 decision has resulted in the campus offering jobs to an additional 14 custodians and 24 parking attendants, according to an email from Mogulof.

Among these newly insourced employees are the 69 workers employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking who are being officially insourced as UC employees, according to Kristian Kim, a member of the campus’s Student Labor Committee.

The agreement also stipulates that the campus will not contract out regularized parking or custodial work through June 30, 2017, Mogulof said in an email.

The agreement is part of the university’s overarching efforts to support fair wages for campus employees through the UC President’s Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan. The plan requires that all UC employees who work more than 20 hours per week are paid $14 per hour by October — an amount that will increase to $15 per hour by October 2017.

According to AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse, the union is pleased with this development in insourcing, but he believes the campus could do more for workers, many of whom are still subcontracted.

“This is a first step, but it is not at all a solution,” Stenhouse said.

Stenhouse expressed his hope that the campus will insource all workers who meet its full-time staffing needs, as well as his support for Senate Bill 959, aimed at ensuring that UC-affiliated contractors fairly compensate workers.

“A first-class institution (should) not treat thousands of its workers as second-class,” Stenhouse said.

According to its announcement on the insourcing, UC Berkeley will offer jobs to all subcontracted custodians and parking attendants within 30 days of the agreement’s finalization and will offer to hire all temporary custodians as full-time workers.

Contact Ericka Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ericka_shin.