University should increase wages for union workers

Crystal Zhong/Staff

The University of California’s fundamental missions are teaching, research and public service. The members of Teamsters Local 2010 provide essential support services for the university’s missions.  

We are composed of various administrative support personnel, public safety dispatchers, early childhood educators, library assistants and cashiers. Our work makes the university work.

We process the paperwork so new students can begin their college odyssey. We welcome students and families to the residence halls and to the campus. We make sure the library needs are met for our students, researchers and educators.  

We also educate the young children of our students, faculty and peers.

We send the help you need when you have an emergency and talk things through with worried parents when it has taken more than a few minutes for their student to respond to text messages.

We assist professors through the administrative hurdles so they can get back to teaching and get back to making world­-changing discoveries.

This university would not run without our work.

Many of us are college graduates; many of us even have master’s degrees and doctorates. Yet, 93 percent of our members cannot afford the basic necessities of life because our real wages have declined 24 percent over the past 15 years.

It is dehumanizing that our education and efforts are not enough.

We have been through the pride of earning a UC degree, the excitement of a job offer to work  for the UC system and the disappointing reality of working for the university.

We are understaffed, overworked and underpaid. Some are homeless, many cannot pay bills  and several have heart­wrenching stories they call everyday life.  

There is the UC Irvine graduate in her mid ­20s with a Bachelor of Science. She has to eat leftover mayonnaise packets at work and expired food at home. She cannot afford to throw away any food. Her story made me cry.

There is the single mother from San Diego who joined the military reserve so she could pay rent  and buy food for her and her child. She should not have to serve to survive.

There is the Berkeley member evicted because of rent increases and forced to live out of his car. His car was broken into while he was at work and all of his belongings stolen. Twice.

There is the cancer survivor from Los Angeles who lives with her mother because she cannot  afford her own place and cancer treatment. Her mother is retired and lives in an assisted living  facility.

Like our students, many of our members need help from their parents to pay bills, purchase  work clothes and buy groceries.

Elderly parents should not have to buy clothes and groceries for their grown children, but they  do. It probably helps that their parents have a secure pension. If the university has its way,  pensions too will ride into the sunset.

Without a secure retirement income, we will not be able to help our students and our children as  our parents can help us.

We are negotiating a new contract with the university, but we are not asking for a lavish  lifestyle. We simply want life to get a little better.  

We need to be paid enough to live and retire with dignity. At a minimum, nobody should have to  survive on mayonnaise.

Mike Erazo is a UC Berkeley graduate, UC employee and Teamster bargaining representative.

Tags No tags yet