Pending Bill Pits Labor Unions Against UC

By Kelsey Brugger

Among the stack of bills sitting on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk is one pitting labor unions against the University of California. Introduced by Senator Richard Lara, SB 376 would require UC — the third largest employer in the state — to pay contracted workers the same wages and benefits as existing university employees doing similar work.

The bill — supported by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Das Williams — would require UC to evaluate contract employees’ wages and benefits and ensure they does not undercut those of existing university employees.

AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) Local 3299 has been a strong supporter of the bill, arguing by denying their workers livable wages or benefits, UC is growing the state’s working poor. According to AFSCME Local 3299 — the UC’s largest labor union — UC has 45 such contracts in place, outsourcing work to thousands.

According to analysis of the bill, a UC Berkeley Labor Center study found temporary workers in 2010 were slightly younger, more likely to be women, less likely to be white, and less likely to have a high school diploma than the average non-temporary worker. The union argues these employees do the same job for less pay and more uncertainty. Contingent worker Irene Su, who worked at the medical center in UCSF, said in a press release contractors retained for years by UC will fire employees for being sick, speaking out against working conditions, and questioning hazardous work assignments.

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[Source]: Santa Barbara Independent