By Josh Lefler
UC Berkeley announced that it would offer employment to nearly 100 workers contracted to work on the campus through private companies on Mar. 18. The decision came after threats of a “speaker’s boycott” from the University of California’s largest labor union — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299 — over the outsourcing of jobs to companies that underpay their workers.
The University of California hires at least 45 different private companies to fill staffing positions across the UC campuses in the areas of custodial work, food services, landscaping, security, parking and more, according to an AFSCME 3299 report. The same report concluded that these workers are paid as little as 53 percent less than workers who are employed directly by the University of California and do not receive the same benefits.
The nearly 100 subcontracted workers, who were just recently hired by the university, were described as having “more than 440 years of combined experience working at UC Berkeley,” but were paid below the wage of an official UC employee, according to Stenhouse.
AFSCME 3299 called for a guest speaker’s boycott at UC Berkeley in the spring if the administration did not bring these subcontracted workers under UC employment. Leaders including California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, state senators Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge) and Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), human rights activist Angela Davis and various nonprofit directors cancelled or postponed their speaking arrangements at UC Berkeley to honor the boycott.
In addition, the union planned to picket President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative Event, which is scheduled to take place at UC Berkeley on April 1. However, AFSCME 3299 called off the boycott and the protest upon UC Berkeley’s announcement that administrators would hire the workers.
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[Source]: UCSD Guardian