When the University of Riverside issued Bernard Johnson his layoff notice, his mind spiraled into the different scenarios him and his family could find themselves in a few months.
“The thing about being laid off during a Pandemic is, yes, the usual fear of losing my income, but now it’s a bit scarier because I could lose healthcare. I have a heart condition, and already having my healthcare is a matter of life and death. But now, with the coronavirus, it’s a matter of life and death for my entire family and my community, not just me.”
Bernard Johnson is a Cook at UC Riverside and is the sole provider for his wife, daughter, and two grandchildren that are 11 and 4 years old. For the last six years, he has dedicated his life to cooking for students, staff, and making sure everyone around him is well taken care of, including UC Administrators. “It’s disappointing to see the UC community just toss us aside just like that,” he said, “I thought they’d do right by us especially given the times we’re living in.”
And UC can do right by workers. UC has options to avoid tossing workers like Bernard to the side. UC has $30 billion in working capital pools and endowments assets, $10 billion of which are unrestricted for rainy days like the situation we’re in now. It also just borrowed $1.5 billion for working capital purposes at historically low interest rates to help campuses deal with COVID-related losses. UC is in great financial standing to withstand COVID-19s financial impact and not layoff any workers at all.
Yet, UC has chosen to cut from its lowest wage workers, most of whom are people of color. Bernard, like Raul, is one of the seventy-seven laid off UCR workers, and one of the estimated 280 laid off 3299 members system wide. UC must rescind the layoffs and be a leader in California’s recovery by preserving good middle-class jobs! Click here to stand up for #3299Heroes.