Written by La Voz/Worker’s Voice
AFSCME 3299 and UPTE-CWA 9119 workers are going on strike for the second time this year. These most essential workers of the university feed students in the dining halls, clean the dorms and classrooms, landscape the campus, and maintain the facilities. The UC Regents, themselves millionaire CEOs, have just given 3% raises to 9 of the UC’s chancellors, bringing their salaries to nearly $820,000/year, and in the last 10 years, UC has expanded its spending on top administrative staff. “Between 2004 and 2014, the University only expanded the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty by 8 percent. During the same period, administrative faculty grew by a whopping 60 percent.” Since then this trend has only worsened.
In the wake of the most conservative union-busting law in decades (Janus), a Bay-Area-wide housing crisis, and a reactionary political climate that attacks immigrants, women, and black folks, the UC refuses to give the AFSCME workers a substantial contract. To lead decent lives, these workers need a wage increase of 6% per year, improvements to their healthcare benefits, and protection from outsourcing of their jobs to agencies who exploit and endanger workers. While the Regents and top administrators are making millions of dollars from student tuition, they have the audacity to propose a completely insufficient 2% wage increase (an actual wage cut considering inflation), to increase the cost of their healthcare premiums by 20-70%, to destroy the retirement benefit, and continue to convert the good jobs workers have fought for into precarious, poverty jobs.
In an era where the rich are getting richer off the exploitation of working people, an era where workers rights are attacked along with their ability to live, the AFSCME 3299 & UPTE workers are showing us all that’s needed to take back our University so that it is a public institution. Students cannot afford to pay $30k/year to attend UC any more than a worker can afford to take care of their family on a poverty wage with no benefits. While UC President Napolitano claims that raises to the workers’ wages would come at the expense of students education, the reality is that workers and students share a common interest: a UC that is a public institution accessible to all. The people who make the UC run should be able to afford to send their children here, and any student should be able to attend regardless of their background. UC must invest its resources in education and human wellness, not in the silk lined pockets of the administration.
To make this vision a reality, we must build a united movement of workers and students, who support one another at every step of the struggle. There are many ways students can support the struggle of the AFSCME workers:
- Join the pickets! Show your support. Talk to the workers about why they are striking.
- Organize public actions of support for the workers with your fellow students.
- Organize public actions against tuition hikes, and draw the connection to workers struggles.
 AFSCME Local 3299 is the University of California’s largest employee union, representing more than 24,000 employees at UC’s 10 campuses, five medical centers, numerous clinics, research laboratories and UC Hastings College of the Law.
 University Professional and Technical Employees, CWA 9119, is the union of technical and professional employees at the University of California. Over 13,000 UC employees are covered by UPTE-CWA contracts.