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‘United and ready to fight': Teamsters Local 2010 launches rallies to demand fairer UC worker pay

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PHILLIP DOWNEY | FILE

A labor union representing upward of 14,000 UC and CSU workers, Teamsters Local 2010, has organized a statewide Week of Action to call for fairer clerical and administrative worker pay.

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MARCH 14, 2022

Update 3/15/22: This article has been updated to include information from campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

One UC Berkeley worker commutes two hours every day to campus because they simply cannot afford to live in the city; another has changed career paths, opting for graduate school because the money they made as a campus worker was not enough to sustain themselves; a third worker worries about their future, realizing they lack the financial capacity to settle down and start a family.

These examples encompass just a fraction of the realities of clerical and administrative, or CX, workers across the UC and CSU systems. Many of them qualify as low income and believe they are receiving inadequate pay from the institutions, according to Kirsten Bottles Willer, a campus worker and bargaining team member for Teamsters Local 2010, a labor union that represents more than 14,000 UC and CSU workers.

“Across the board, folks feel like they are not being valued as members of the UC community, even though we give so much and keep it running,” Willer said.

As a result, Teamsters Local 2010 organized a statewide Week of Action calling for “more adequate” CX worker pay and an end to the pay disparity between those workers and management within the two institutions, Willer said.

The week will involve rallies at several university campuses from March 14-18, including a rally at UC Berkeley on March 16, according to the Teamsters Local 2010 website.

The statewide rallies come amid labor contract negotiations between the university and Teamsters Local 2010. The deadline to finalize a new five-year contract is March 31, with the union hoping it can secure “fair raises and wages” for the CX workers it represents, according to Willer.

“We are united and ready to fight for what it takes to get what we deserve,” Willer said.

The UC Berkeley rally will begin at the corner of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue on Wednesday at noon, the same day the Teamsters Local 2010 bargaining team will testify at the UC Board of Regents meeting, Willer said.

Teamsters Local 2010 hopes the rally will inform contract negotiators from the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, and UC Berkeley about the difficulties CX workers endure with their current pay, Willer said. She added the union hopes to educate campus students about the critical role CX workers play in the campus community, noting that such workers ensure class scheduling, events and research happen.

“We’re excited to show how the lack of pay is really affecting workers and show what we bring to make the UC function as the flagship institution that it is today,” Willer said. “We hope negotiators hear our stories and take that back to their side of the table to come to a better agreement.”

Teamsters Local 2010 cited several reasons why higher CX worker pay is necessary, including a pay decline over the past two decades despite increases in the UC Budget. For instance, the pay of a step 1 administrative assistant at UC Irvine has dropped 27.3% since the 1999-2000 fiscal year, while the UC budget has tripled from $15 billion to $41 billion during that same time period, the union’s press release states.

Meanwhile, manager positions at the university have seen significant pay increases since 2013, according to Teamsters Local 2010 spokesperson Aimee Baror. UC managers saw their total gross pay grow at 3.5 times the rate that CX workers did from 2013 to 2020, Baror noted.

According to Baror, the gross pay of CX workers represented by Teamsters Local 2010 also fell 8.2% in 2020 due to the pandemic while managers saw their gross pay increase 5.3% that same year.

Willer also alleged the university saw financial gains from tuition hikes as well as federal and state funding during the COVID-19 pandemic but has “barely channeled any of that money” into CX worker salaries.

“The UC has so many financial resources, from pandemic funds to the increase in tuition. But they don’t seem to be distributing that money equitably to their employees,” Willer alleged.

High inflation has also exacerbated the financial strain on CX workers in the UC and CSU systems, according to Willer. Inflation, which increased by almost 8% on a year-over-year basis in January, has stagnated wages and made it more difficult for CX workers to afford basic necessities, she added.

Willer noted some CX workers struggle to afford health care costs that are not covered by insurance, which deters them from seeking additional care. A survey also found that more than 98% of CX workers represented by Teamsters Local 2010 do not make enough to afford fair market rent in the county they work in.

“Especially as housing prices in California continue to skyrocket, the UC must pay workers fairly if it wishes to attract new workers or retain valuable talent,” the union press release reads.

Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore echoed UCOP’s recognition of CX workers, calling them a “critical part of our clerical and administrative backbone at Berkeley.”

She noted CX workers work in almost every campus department and facility to provide essential support services for the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

“Individuals and groups are free to rally on campus,” Gilmore said in an email, about the upcoming Teamsters Local 2010 rally. “We of course value and support free speech.”

UCOP spokesperson Joanna McWilliams also emphasized the “critical role” of CX workers in supporting the school system’s success.

The university’s priorities for contract negotiations with the union include continuing to provide fair pay, access to quality health and retirement benefits, as well as fostering safe and inclusive workplaces, according to a UCOP fact sheet.

The fact sheet also cites the university’s record of fair pay and benefits. Under the current five-year contract, the university has provided pay increases totaling 18% across the board, a choice of medical plans with guaranteed limits on annual premium increases and additional equity or pay increases for individual employees, among other benefits.

“UC has a strong record of fair pay and is committed to continued fair wages and good benefits for all employees,” McWilliams said in the email.

Following rallies at UC campuses, Teamsters Local 2010 will also hold rallies at several CSU campuses from March 21-25, according to the union’s website.

Contact Annika Kim Constantino at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @annikakimc.
LAST UPDATED

MARCH 15, 2022


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