Invasion of the UC Service Workers
Friday, 60 University of California (UC) workers and at least 10 UC student supporters stormed the San Francisco offices of UC Board of Regents Chairman Richard Blum at 909 Montgomery. Chanting, singing and posting images and words of impoverished UC service workers on the walls, they announced their intentions to occupy Blum's office until he and UC President Mark Yudof agree to end poverty wages at UC.
They made it into Blum's office by nefarious means, sixty strong! Clapping and chanting and singin' and dancin', Blum's employees didn't know what to do. Blum was not available but his very plush office was wide open.
Beneath pictures of Dianne Feinstein and the Dalai Lama, surrounded by Tibetan prayer flags, pictures of presidents and potentates and other knick-knacks of Blum's illustrious capitalist career, twenty people, including AFSCME members and student supporters, sat in and were arrested after Blum gave the SFPD his civil complaint. They were arrested. The cops were real nice and professional, after a ride to Central Station the protesters were booked for misdemeanor trespass.
With wages as low as $10/hour, 96% of UC service workers are eligible for some form of public assistance, including food stamps, childcare assistance, and housing subsidies. During the course of the past year- and-a-half of negotiations with UC service workers, the UC Board of Regents has approved raises and bonuses for highly-paid UC executives totaling $14.5 million, long before Thursday's decision to freeze executive salaries next year.
For example, just in the past year-and-a-half, UCLA Vice Chancellor of Medical Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Gerald Levey received three salary increases, including one in September 2008 for over $154,000. UCI Chief Medical Officer Eugene Spiritus got three raises and two bonuses, bringing his 2008 cash compensation to $328,073. Finally, Nathan Brostrom, the Vice Chancellor for Administration at UC Berkeley received a 6.1% salary increase of $16,400.
It is shameful that UC has found the funds to give wage increases to its highest paid employees, but has not found the funds to raise its lowest paid workers out of poverty.
UC service workers have struggled in poverty for too long. Today is the day to set UC's priorities straight. UC President Mark Yudof, Regents Chairman Richard Blum and the other members of the Board of Regents have the power to end poverty at UC. It is time for them to step in and step up and end poverty at UC.