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Monday, July 14, 2008

Service Workers Strike At UC Davis

This morning, across the state thousands of service workers went on strike against the UC system seeking higher wages than the $10 per hour many currently receive. This despite efforts by PERB and UC to stop the strike. Last Friday, a judge issued an injunction to prevent the union from striking until at least July 22, 2008 due to supposed lack of notice.

The union in a release responded:
"In an effort to prevent UC workers from standing up for their families, the University sought to stop the strike by going to court. Friday a judge said that workers could not go on strike unless they had given the University the exact strike dates with enough notice. Since UC was served notice of the planned strike dates on Thursday, workers clearly had met the judge’s requirements and expect to prevail in court. UC’s legal action on the eve of the strike was a clear attempt to shift attention away from its refusal to improve poverty wages."
The workers, who do everything from cleaning and disinfecting hospitals and dorm rooms, to providing cafeteria service to patients and students, to ensuring hospitals and campuses are secure, have been negotiating in good faith with UC executives for almost a year. They have remained deadlocked over poverty wages for months.

According to a release from AFSCME yesterday:

Many are forced to take second jobs or go on public assistance just to meet their families’ basic needs. Skyrocketing gas and food prices has deepened the crisis for UC families that are already living paycheck to paycheck. Typically, service workers live in low income communities farther away from campus, forcing a longer commute and higher fuel costs that use a disproportionate portion of their budget.

Poverty wages not only affect workers and their families, but UC executives are pushing the costs of paying poverty wages onto California taxpayers in a difficult budget year. Roughly 96% are eligible for at least one of the following taxpayer-funded program: food stamps, WIC, public housing subsidies, and subsidized child care.

UC wages are dramatically lower than other hospitals and California’s community colleges, which pay 25% higher wages on average. In addition, UC insist on passing on benefit costs, pushing families deeper into poverty. When workers have stood up for better lives for their families and better working conditions, the University has retaliated by violating labor laws.

The Vanguard joined several workers at 5:00 am this morning as they shut down a number of construction sites on campus. This particular site was shut down by just three picketers as construction workers refused to cross the picket lines.


It is beginning to get warm outside, but the strike is going strong. Here are the latest photos from Russell and College where as many as 100 striking workers were marching on the four corners of the intersection.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting