By Bulmaro Vicente
Special to The Bee
As the Assembly convened hearings on how best to prevent the University of California from sticking its students with another tuition hike, several students spoke about the growing number of UC students who are not able to afford food.
Afterward, we were alarmed by how surprised UC administrators – notably President Janet Napolitano – were to learn that such a problem existed. Thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, the tuition crisis has been averted for now. UC has even launched a new food security initiative.
However, the ignorance of the UC president’s office about the most vulnerable members of our campus communities goes on. A case in point is the plight of the university’s growing army of contract workers.
According to UC, there are “many thousands” of such workers, overwhelmingly immigrants, women and people of color. Each is employed by private firms that pay rock-bottom wages with few, if any benefits. Many rely on Medi-Cal, food stamps and unscrupulous payday lenders just to get by. Many more face workplace abuses, including unsafe conditions, harassment and outright wage theft. And their employers – under contract with UC – profit by keeping it that way.
Often called “temporary” workers, some of these employees are spending years, even decades, toiling at UC for as much as 53 percent lower wages than UC employees doing the same jobs. In fact, 51 contracted workers with more than 440 years of combined UC experience banded together at UC Berkeley to demand that administrators bring them in-house.
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[Source]: Sacramento Bee