UC workers protest food insecurity at Big Game

Sakura Cannestra/Staff

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About 20 rain-soaked members of Teamsters Local 2010, a union representing thousands of UC workers, protested their current wages and ensuing food insecurity in front of Saturday’s Big Game.

Beginning at 12:30 p.m. at their table across from Gate 1 of Memorial Stadium, Teamsters members stood along the sidewalk holding signs and handing out fliers to fans heading into Memorial Stadium. The protest followed a string of activity from the Teamsters union to raise awareness of food insecurity among many workers, including a hearing with the state Legislature this past Thursday.

A survey released in October by the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute found that more than 70 percent of UC clerical, administrative and support staff workers were food insecure — meaning they struggle to put enough food on the table from their wages alone — and that 45 percent of workers had to skip one meal a day because they lacked adequate resources. The study also found that the median hourly wage for UC workers was $22.

“There are employees who have collapsed at work due to stroke or being malnourished, who have been rushed to the hospital,” said Teamsters Local 2010 member Joseph Meyer. “When you are food insecure, that adds a whole new level of stress.”

Workers visible in raincoats and blue Teamsters Local 2010 apparel and holding signs reading “UC: Pay your workers enough to eat” stayed out in the intermittent rain for approximately two hours fliering.

About 1:30 p.m., the protesters came together and began marching in a circle in front of the main gate, chanting and holding signs. One member, regional Union Representative Elise Magno-Jardinico, was dressed as a bag of instant ramen to show “what we have to pick near the end of our paycheck.”

While much of the crowd continued on to the Big Game, the workers garnered some response from those who had never heard news about worker food insecurity and others who volunteered their own opinions to the protesters.

“They should move somewhere where they can afford to live,” said Gerald Jones, a UC Berkeley alumnus waiting outside of the stadium, adding that UC workers likely had higher wages than other people who worked in the Bay Area.

The UC Office of the President was unable to be reached for a comment.

Teamsters Local 2010 members additionally raised voices in public comment at the UC regents meeting in San Francisco and on a campuswide strike at UCLA on Wednesday.

One protester, Teamsters Local 2010 member Gloria Rios, said that despite working in the UC system for more than 20 years and holding her current job in UC Berkeley’s Parking and Transportation Department, she could not keep up with the rising cost of living in the Bay Area.

“I love my job and I love what I do, but it is a struggle to survive,” Rios said.

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.