Highly-paid executives at the University of California continue their austerity march, driving down wages and exploiting racialized poverty on campuses and medical centers. AFSCME 3299, the largest union at the University of California, has been negotiating for a year and is at an impasse. AFSCME will be joined in sympathy strikes by the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the Union of Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA 9119). Pickets will be held across 10 campuses, 5 medical centers, and various clinics and laboratories throughout the state. With 53,000 workers in all, this will be the largest strike in the history of the University of California.
In January 2008, the Partnership for Working Families released a report titled “Failing California’s Communities: How the University of California’s Low Wages Affect Surrounding Cities and Neighborhoods.” The report noted that UC workers are paid only a quarter of the market rate for their jobs and tend to live in regions where most people live well below the poverty line.
This report uses an economic impact analysis to demonstrate that paying employees at a market rate would substantially stimulate the economy in these poor neighborhoods. They note, “Two-thirds of [AFSCME 3299] workers (66%) live in places where the poverty rate is 25% higher than the surrounding county, and nearly one half live in places where the poverty rate is 50% higher. Nearly one-quarter of workers (22%) live in places where the poverty rate is double the rate of the surrounding county.” The study further notes that workers paid at the 2008 market rate for their work would bring a total of $3,110,397 to state and local taxes to these communities, with a multiplier effect totalling $7,573,307 in additional stimulus to Sacramento and Yolo Counties.
While AFSCME workers struggle to make ends meet, highly paid executives of the University of California siphon off the money out of working class communities by granting themselves exorbitant salaries, perks, and benefits. As the state’s largest employer, its anti-worker policies affect us all.
As socialists, we acknowledge that all workers share a common goal of self liberation. The attack on UC workers wages is an attack on all of our wages, and we call upon the larger community to support their picket line. AFSCME 3299 is leading the way on May 7th and will be joined by UPTE-CWA 9119 and the California Nurses Association on May 8th and 9th. Picket lines and noontime rallies run from 6 AM to 8 PM on all three days. DSA Sacramento asks our members and allies to join the picket at every opportunity.