Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Picket Line with Striking UC Workers

(July 18, 2008) In the early mornings of Monday and Friday of this week, I joined striking University of California service workers and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 3299 at UC Hospital on Parnassus. The strike is statewide and involves tens of thosuands of workers from across California. After a week of the strike Friday's picketers were still lively and spirited.

UC service workers do everything from transportation services and staffing the cafeterias to cleaning operating rooms and campus dorms. Many of them make poverty wages as low as $10 an hour that still qualify them for food stamps and other benefits for very low income people. Other hospitals and California's community colleges pay an average of 25% higher for the same work.

AFSCME had been negotiating a contract for over a year and has repeatedly reached impasse with UC who has refused to significantly increase wages nor allow for steps in pay for length of time working. For the past few years, turnover and recruitment difficulties have been common at UC campuses and hospitals. Meanwhile the UC Executives earn huge salaries with outrageous perks and bonuses.

The cost of running UC's hospitals and schools includes a living wage, health care, step increases and pensions for workers. Shame on UC for skimping on the workers.


Anonymous said...

I think that we should democratize school governance: Stakeholders (i.e. teachers, staff, and especially students -- the people that make sure the schools actually exist, both monetarily, infrastructurally and culturally) should be granted the right to democratically nominate and elect the Board of Regents by opening up proxy access to minority stakeholders and introducing cumulative voting and competitive elections. Stakeholders should be given the power to approve all major business and academic decisions, including top executive compensation. Teachers, students and staff should be treated as the owners of the colleges since, in fact, that is what they are.

We should also reign in excessive executive pay: Stakeholder authorization should be required for top executive compensation packages at each annual stakeholder meeting.

I think that if the teachers, students and staff felt that they controlled their own academic and workplace institutions, they would take more pride and would feel much more motivated about actively participating in their education and in politics in general.

In addition, such reforms (among many others) should be instituted with corporations in relation to the Board of Directors and shareholders.

Sam Spade's SF - Tom Dunn said...

Here are some friendly suggestions from a supporter: You need to get information put onto your blog about ways to contact John directly and also how to contact the campaign office. You need the physical address to the campaign office (with a link to a map), the mailing address, the telephone number and you need to create a link on your blog page to your email. Those elements really should be in place BEFORE you open your campaign office. Also, make cards with the blog website address and pass them out at the campaign office opening. A rubber stamp on blank cards is not very expensive and works well. Also, ask local progressive organizations that endorse you to exchange links with you. You link to their web sites and they link to your blog. Also, use your blog as your primary tool for spreading news, making statements, issuing policy statements, answering questions, etc. It will encourage the media, the blogopshere and the public to take a look at it from time to time. Finally, set-up some network sharing (those "subscribe" buttons you see on blogs and web sites) That will enable people to automatically receive new posts by email or automatically have them sent to their news reader. Good luck! I hope you make it. You are exactly what we need.

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