Clerical workers at the University of California went on strike across the state on Tuesday to push forward contract negotiations.
For 24 hours, workers who bill medical appointments, work in the financial aid office and help with research walked out of all 10 UCs, five medical centers, and at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
UC Berkeley payroll specialist Jackie Gross was one of a group of workers standing out in the rain for 6 hours. Gross called the day a ‘sympathy strike’ to show solidarity with skilled trades workers at UCLA and UC San Diego ,who hit an impasse with their contract negotiations with the University of California.
“We've got some of our brothers down south, they’re part of our union,” she explains. “We got to support them too, cause they'll be up here supporting us. And that's the important thing.”
But the clerical workers have also been in the midst of their own contract negotiations since April, and they accuse the UC of delaying the process. Teamsters Local 2010, their union, says that their wages have gone down by about 25% over the past two decades when you adjust for cost of living. And they point to a study by the Economic Policy Institute that found over 80% of UC union employees can’t afford an “adequate but modest standard of living.”
“We love the university, we want to work here,” she says. “But we also need enough to live, we also need enough to pay our bills, we need enough to buy food. And for a number of our members that's become very, very hard.”
The UC’s most recent offer includes a raise of 18% over six years, which a UC spokesman called "market-competitive" and "consistent with increases given to other UC represented and non-represented employees."
But the union is pushing for better wages for all 12,000 of their workers. At the moment, there are no future negotiations scheduled.