FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 13, 2023
CONTACT: Frank Valdez, 619-754-1188, [email protected]
UC Workers and Community Allies Call on UC Regents to Increase Worker Pay and Make Housing Affordable
Rallies Held across the UC System
Oakland: Hundreds of University of California (UC) employees represented by AFSCME 3299, other labor and student unions, and community allies rallied at campuses and medical centers across the UC system yesterday, calling on Administrators to increase the system’s minimum wage to $25 per hour, and to invest in new affordable housing for workers and students. Yesterday’s actions coincided with the UC Regents Health Services Committee meeting at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center.
Yesterday’s actions follow a March 14th letter from ASFCME 3299 leadership to UC President Drake outlining the urgency of establishing a $25 per hour minimum wage. The Coalition of UC unions has also urged the UC Regents to divest over $7billion from private equity funds that rely on raising rental prices to deliver returns to shareholders, which have also been linked to the housing affordability crisis across the globe by the United Nations.
“UC knows there’s an affordability crisis in our communities. Workers are struggling to afford basic necessities like food and child care. They are unable to live anywhere near work. And the University is struggling to fill vacant essential jobs, which jeopardizes the safety of our students, patients and co-workers,” said Kathryn Lybarger, president of AFSCME Local 3299, which represents 30,000 of UC’s lowest paid workers. “But instead of taking action to fix the problem, they’ve actively fueled the crisis by underpaying the frontline workers who make this institution run and sending their retirement funds to private equity firms whose entire business model relies on making housing less affordable.”
Over the past five years, the share of UC service and patient care workers who are housing cost-burdened rose from 50% to 70%, and their inflation-adjusted “real wages” have shrunk by 5% since 2021. Yet UC will increase the pay of its Chancellors, each of whom earns more than $500K per year, by 34% since 2021.This past week, the University granted the Chancellor of UC San Diego a $500,000 raise, boosting his base salary to more than $1.14 million.
According to a Professor at UC Santa Barbara, the average cost of living in communities where UC campuses are located is 47% higher than the national average—forcing many of UC’s frontline workers to commute as much as 2-3 hours each way to work, every day. Tens of thousands of UC employees currently earn less than $25 per hour, according to University payroll data.
“I am currently only able to afford to rent out a room with what I make at UC and if I were to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment, it would have to be a lot further than the 45 minutes I currently spend in traffic to get to UCLA,” said Douglas Gil, a housekeeper at UCLA. “I wonder how many UC chancellors and CEOs have to have roommates to survive or if they have to spend more than 45 minutes in traffic on a good day to get to work.”