UC Berkeley Workers, Students Say University’s Subcontracted Campus Jobs Mean Poverty Wages

Source: Mario Vasquez, In These Times, December 10, 2015

Twenty-two student protesters were arrested on December 3 after staging a two-hour occupation of the central administration offices at the University of California, Berkeley. The protesters, 50 members of a campus-based organization called the Student Labor Committee, stormed California Hall, where school head Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is headquartered, and sat down in the office lobby demanding living wages and benefits for workers employed by private contractors on campus. The practice of outsourcing, mostly with workers from communities of colors in the Bay Area, is detrimental both to those workers and campus workers directly hired by the university, according to campaign advocates. AFSCME Local 3299, the system’s largest employee union, said in August that UC management currently holds contracts with “at least 45 private contractors employing thousands of subcontractors who perform the same work as career UC employees—such as custodians, security officers, parking attendants, and food service workers.”

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“Our tuition dollars fund racism and injustice”: California students protest university labor outsourcing
Source: Ben Norton, Salon, December 3, 2015

More than 50 students are staging a sit-in in the office of University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. The protest, which was organized by the school’s Student Labor Committee (SLC), is calling for an end to university labor outsourcing and exploitation. Custodial workers and parking attendants at UC Berkeley are subcontracted to the companies Performance First Building Services, American Building Management (ABM), and LAZ Parking. One of these contractors, Performance First, is under federal investigation by the Department of Labor for alleged rights violations. In a report by the Los Angeles Times, subcontracted UC Berkeley workers said that, during sports events, they sometimes work 80- or 90-hour weeks and are denied overtime pay…..

UC Berkeley students arrested after sit-in over contract worker paySource: Kate Murphy, Contra Costa Times, December 3, 2015

tudents protesting the pay and treatment of subcontracted custodians and parking attendants — including some who work for a contractor under federal investigation — staged a sit-in Thursday at California Hall, home to the campus chancellor’s office. “A broad coalition of students demands that their tuition dollars no longer fund racism and injustice at the UC,” the Student Labor Committee, which organized the protest, said in a statement. The group maintains that the workers — who typically earn less than UC employees doing similar jobs — were “exclusively people of color.” A few dozen students chanted and danced in the lobby as AFSCME 3299 workers rallied outside.

Workers, students call for insourcing of all subcontracted workers on campus
Source: Melissa Wen, The Daily Californian, August 31, 2015

Several dozen students, workers and community members marched to various locations on campus and in the city Monday, delivering petitions calling for the insourcing of all subcontracted employees at UC Berkeley. The action was the result of organization among employees of ABM, Performance First Building Services and LAZ Parking — three companies that contract with the campus. The workers said that as subcontracted employees, they receive significantly less pay than UC workers performing equivalent work — a problem they hoped would be solved by being brought in as UC employees. … The group then went to the offices of UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation and Athletic Department administrators, in addition to seeking out Ali Mansour, who manages campus custodial workers. Their last stop was near International House, where a First Performance manager drove out to speak with them.

Demonstrators sing in California Hall to protest UC Berkeley’s use of contract workers
Source: Melissa Wen, Daily Californian, July 8, 2015

Students, workers demand community benefits agreement for Richmond Bay Campus Demonstrators performed a song and dance inside California Hall on Tuesday, calling out the administration for being “super cheap” and marking the start of a new campaign for the campus to create more union jobs instead of hiring contract workers. At about noon, a group of about a dozen students and workers combined gathered before the doors of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office, carrying a letter and a cake decorated with the phrase: “I don’t always pay fair wages, but when I do it’s in Berkeley and Richmond.” They sang an original song, based on the song “Super Freak,” with lyrics criticizing the administrators for treating workers unfairly…… The protest kicked off increased efforts against the university’s contracting out of services, a practice that has been criticized because contract workers often have fewer protections than UC workers. The university maintains, though, that hiring a mix of contract and UC workers allows “maximizing efficiency within resource constraints,” as UC Legislative Director Jason Murphy wrote in a letter to state legislators…. The UC contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union prohibits UC campuses from contracting out only because of the savings resulting from paying lower wages and benefits for services normally performed by AFSCME workers…..