Despite $10 billion in unrestricted reserves, UC laying off hundreds of low wage people of color
OAKLAND, CA — University of California employees will mount pickets in front of UC Hospitals across the state Wednesday in response to recent notifications that at least two hundred of the institution’s lowest paid workers—almost entirely workers of color– will be laid off for at least 10 weeks into the fall.
In recent weeks, University Administrators have notified workers that despite strong hospital revenues, receipt of hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal Coronavirus Relief funds, and more than $10 billion in unrestricted cash reserves, it would begin laying off employees. The first notices went out to approximately 200 primarily food service workers at UC San Diego and UC Riverside over the past week. The workers make annual salary of $41,000/per year, and the layoffs are expected to save the $40 billion UC system a total of $1.5 million—or four thousandths of one percent.
“While our members perform the hard work of caring for patients and keeping students safe during this public health crisis, recent research has documented how UC does not need to resort to the types of austerity cuts that will hurt low income people of color the most,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “UC’s morally bankrupt choice to cast aside these dedicated workers will not save money or help one more Californian get an education. Instead, it will condemn more of our state’s most vulnerable workers to poverty and insecurity in the midst of a pandemic. ”
Wednesday’s protests are being organized by AFSCME Local 3299–the University’s largest employee union. Workers will picket and rally between 12:00p.m and 1p.m. Wednesday at UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center, UCSD Jacobs Medical Center, UC Irvine Medical Center, UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, UC San Francisco’s Helen Diller Medical Center, and UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
UC’s latest round of layoffs against AFSCME 3299 represented workers follows similar action by the UC Hastings College of the Law in late May. Despite $83 million in cash reserves and a $6 million surge in private donations over the past year, Hastings Administrators announced a first round of layoffs impacting 8 AFSCME 3299 represented employees– who had each worked at the school an average of 12 years and were all people of color—in late May.
A GoFundMe page has been established to aid workers affected by UC’s recently announced layoffs: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-workers-laid-off-at-ucsd-hdh