Campus insources workers after ongoing plans

Source: Kimberly Nielson, The Daily Californian, May 16, 2016

After seven months of protests by campus employees and students, UC Berkeley finalized plans to insource 69 campus workers from three private contract companies last week. The decision to insource workers was part of the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan, a broader university movement aiming to support campus employees and raise their salaries, campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore said in an email. She added that campus officials have coordinated with AFSCME, a labor union representing UC workers, to work out appointment details since March. The campus has offered employment to all formerly contracted night shift and athletic custodians, as well as campus parking attendants contracted through LAZ Parking, according to Gilmore. She also noted that workers from ABM and Performance First were also given priority employment with the university. … Campus officials will also discontinue contracting additional parking or custodial workers for the remainder of the existing service agreement, extending their efforts to remedy “grotesque injustice” endured by contracted workers on campus, according to Stenhouse. …


Opinion: Union calls for reasonable reform at UC
Source: Katherine Lybarger, President of AFSCME Local 3299, Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2016

As a widening scandal involving misuse of public funds and other ethical breaches by its top brass grips the University of California, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board criticized UC’s largest employee union for advocating greater scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest at UC (“Let’s step back from UC Davis turmoil”; May 1). The board also criticized AFSCME Local 3299 for legislation that would encourage UC elites to stop squandering public funds on private contractors that exploit low-wage workers. There are thousands of contract custodians, landscapers, food service workers and others who do the same full-time jobs as direct UC employees for a fraction of the pay and no benefits. Instead of bringing these workers in-house, UC has fought to ensure its well-connected contractors continue to profit by condemning legions of these workers to lives of poverty and second-class status. … UC has recently told the Legislature that providing livable wages and direct employment to contract workers affected by Senate Bill 959 wouldn’t cost UC a dollar more. In fact, they’ve said it might even save money since $138 million of the $345 million that UC spends on such deals is squandered on overhead and contractor profits. In other words, the editorial board’s assertions about SB 959 simply do not add up. …

Campus sheds light on rationale for insourcing formerly subcontracted workers
Source: Ericka Shin, The Daily Californian, March 30, 2016

The campus already had plans in the works to insource or fill vacant positions for at least 55 custodians prior to the recent agreement, but the March 18 decision has resulted in the campus offering jobs to an additional 14 custodians and 24 parking attendants, according to an email from Mogulof. Among these newly insourced employees are the 69 workers employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking who are being officially insourced as UC employees, according to Kristian Kim, a member of the campus’s Student Labor Committee. The agreement also stipulates that the campus will not contract out regularized parking or custodial work through June 30, 2017, Mogulof said in an email.

UC Berkeley Agrees to Hire Subcontracted Workers After Threats of Boycott
Source: Josh Lefler, The Guardian, March 27, 2016

The University of California hires at least 45 different private companies to fill staffing positions across the UC campuses in the areas of custodial work, food services, landscaping, security, parking and more, according to an AFSCME 3299 report. The same report concluded that these workers are paid as little as 53 percent less than workers who are employed directly by the University of California and do not receive the same benefits. The nearly 100 subcontracted workers, who were just recently hired by the university, were described as having “more than 440 years of combined experience working at UC Berkeley,” but were paid below the wage of an official UC employee, according to Stenhouse.

UC Berkeley reaches labor agreement on contract workers
Source: Tom Lochner, Contra Costa Times, March 18, 2016

UC Berkeley, in what one of its unions hailed as a “historic victory for contract workers,” has agreed to offer direct employment to all regular night shift and athletics custodians currently working at the institution through private contractors, the university announced Friday. As part of the agreement, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 will end its “speakers boycott,” the university said. Under the boycott, AFSCME objected to speakers with engagements at the campus. … The union said 93 custodial and parking workers fall under the agreement. The university said it will offer to hire all campus stack parking attendants currently employed through LAZ Parking. …

Subcontracted campus workers insourced as UC employees, ending speakers’ boycott
Source: Adrienne Shih, The Daily Californian, March 18, 2016

After nearly seven months of campaigning, 69 previously subcontracted workers have officially been insourced as UC employees, ending an ongoing campus speakers’ boycott. The workers — employed by ABM, PerformanceFirst and LAZ Parking — were previously a part of the University of California’s two-tier employment policy. The campus employs some individuals directly, or in-house, while others who do temporary or seasonal work are employed as subcontracted workers, receiving reduced pay and fewer benefits than their directly employed counterparts.

Berkeley City Council passes item in support of campus speakers’ boycott
Source: SHRADHA GANAPATHY AND PATRICIA SERPA, Daily Californian, March 16, 2016

At its Tuesday meeting, Berkeley City Council adopted a resolution to support UC Berkeley’s subcontracted workers and endorse AFSCME Local 3299’s speakers’ boycott on campus. The boycott intends to highlight the issue of subcontracted employees on campus, said AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse, who added that those workers are often paid less than workers employed directly by the university and face alleged labor abuses such as wage theft. The council’s resolution would send a message that the public recognizes the concerns of subcontracted workers, he said.

UC workers union calls on Bill Clinton to cancel appearance at UC Berkeley
Source: Ivan Valenzuela, California Aggie, March 2, 2016

On Feb. 4, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, the University of California’s largest employee union, called for a speaker’s boycott to bring in nearly 100 subcontracted custodians and parking attendants at UC Berkeley and to hire these workers as direct UC employees. The protest, which the union hopes will last until the remainder of the spring semester or until the university decides to hire the subcontracted workers, calls for support of speakers who are set to appear at the university to boycott their appearances. Speakers scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley include civil rights activist Angela Davis, former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

UC Labor Union Accuses University of Wage Theft
Source: Josh Lefler, The Guardian, February 29, 2016

According to a report generated by AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California enlists at least 45 different private contractors across all UC campuses. The same report also states that subcontracted workers are paid as much as 53 percent less than UC workers and do not receive benefits. President of AFSCME Local 3299 Kathryn Lybarger argued that, though these workers are hired and paid by private companies, the university is partially responsible for the wage theft that occurs.

California Public Employment Relations Board issues complaints against university, alleging unfair labor practices
Source: Suhuana Hussain, Daily Californian, February 23, 2016

The charges — filed by the American Federation State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 union — allege that the university violated its collective bargaining agreement with the union, which represents UC workers. The university allegedly entered into or extended about five contracts with private companies without properly notifying the union, as it is legally required to, according to Todd Stenhouse, AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson. These private firms source workers for everything from janitorial work and parking security to patient transport, and according to Stenhouse, this work is often equivalent to work done by UC employees. … PERB also issued a complaint earlier this year alleging that the university unlawfully retaliated against about 20 workers — many of whom are Chinese immigrants — employed by UC San Francisco contractor Impec Group. After Impec Group allegedly cut the workers’ wages, workers sought direct employment with the university. The workers organized, sending delegates to speak at a UC Board of Regents meeting and setting up meetings with UCSF management, as well as picketing and distributing leaflets at various events, according to the complaint issued by PERB on Jan. 15.

UC receives second complaint of unfair labor practices
Source: Ryan Leou, Daily Bruin, February 19, 2016

The California Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, issued a second unfair labor practice complaint against the University of California last Friday. The American Federation State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 union filed the complaint, which alleged the UC violated its collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Local 3299 by extending or renewing contracts with individual contractors without properly notifying the union. … PERB issued another complaint in January, alleging the UC unlawfully retaliated against contracted workers at UC San Francisco who tried to collectively organize and seek direct employment with the UC after their employers cut their wages.

Union calls for speaker’s boycott, urging improved treatment of subcontracted workers
Source: Maya Eliahou, The Daily Californian, February 8, 2016

A UC labor union is calling for a speaker’s boycott at UC Berkeley for the duration of the spring semester, urging the campus to improve its treatment of subcontracted workers. In a press release published Thursday, the labor union, AFSCME Local 3299, said it wants UC Berkeley to hire the nearly 100 subcontracted campus workers employed by Performance First, ABM and LAZ Parking as direct employees.

Union Calls on Bill Clinton to Cancel Speech at UC Berkeley
Source: Alana Goodman, Washington Free Beacon, February 5, 2016

AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California’s largest employee union, announced on Thursday that it is calling for a “speakers boycott” of the Berkeley campus until the school agrees to hire around 100 subcontracted campus janitors and parking attendants as direct employees. … According to AFSCME 3299, many of the subcontracted workers receive significantly lower pay and benefits compared to direct employees—even though some of the contract workers have been at UC Berkeley for years.

Workers unite to protest campus’s treatment of contract workers Wednesday
Source: Ericka Shin, The Daily Californian, October 14, 2015

About 3:30 p.m., protesters organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — a union that represents UC workers — gathered, circulated a petition letter and circled around with picket signs to demand that the campus provide fair treatment for all workers. The crowd consisted of contract workers, union workers and students. Organizations involved in the protest included AFSCME Local 3299, Fight for $15 and Service Employees International Union. … On Wednesday, protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the campus’s alleged unsafe working conditions and understaffing with chants of, “What do we want? Safe staffing. When do we want it? Now,” and “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”

Brown vetoes bill on UC employment wages, benefits
Source: Maxwell Jenkins-Goetz, The Daily Californian, October 12, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Friday that sought to ensure benefit and wage fairness for the University of California’s contracted workers. While Brown acknowledged that state Senate Bill 376, which passed in September, was well intentioned and cautioned the UC system to provide transparent accounting of its relations with contracting companies, he said he was “not prepared to embrace” the provisions of the bill, which would have instituted new requirements for the university’s process of selecting contracting companies. … SB 376 would have ensured that for contracts exceeding $100,000 annually, the lowest bidder must provide a written statement that its employees will be compensated at rates comparable with those of workers employed directly by the UC system.

Business groups help bring down labor bills
Source: Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, October 12, 2015

After the dust settled Sunday on the final day of the year’s regular legislative session, business groups were quick to claim victory over a torrent of labor-backed bills. … The California Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it helped bring down 18 of 19 “job killer” bills, or legislation that the organization targets as having the worst impact on private industry. …

Gov. Brown vetoes bill on paying contracted, UC-hired workers equally
Source: Shreya Maskara, The Daily Bruin, October 11, 2015

Earlier this month, UC President Janet Napolitano sent a letter to Brown urging him to veto the bill. The University predicted the bill would cost between $48 and $60 million annually, although the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, which represents UC service workers and patient care workers, claimed the bill would cost about $9 million annually. In the letter vetoing the bill, Brown said he thinks the University has already started to move in the direction of improving wage and contracting practices, citing its plan to increase minimum wage for employees and contract workers to $15 an hour by 2017. In the letter, however, Brown urged the University to provide a transparent accounting of its contracts to show how interests of low-income workers are protected.

UC Berkeley independent contractor investigated for allegedly underpaying workers, refusing overtime
Source: Grace O’Toole and Brenna Smith, The Daily Californian, October 4, 2015

Department of Labor spokesperson Leo Kay confirmed that an open investigation of Performance First for potential wage violations is being conducted. Kay declined to comment further. California state law requires that employers pay workers 1.5 times their normal wage after working more than eight hours on a single workday or more than 40 hours in one week. If the allegations against Performance First are proven true, the company would be in violation of these overtime laws. According to the allegations made by workers, Performance First wrote two paychecks under two different names for one employee to avoid overtime payment and also asked employees to work extra hours without pay entirely. Additionally, employees allege that at times, workers did not receive lunch breaks and worked up to 80- or 90-hour weeks. … Beyond these allegations, the university is facing criticism from some California lawmakers for the unequal benefits and salaries received by UC contracted workers as compared with those of official UC employees. According to a report by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, a union that represents many UC employees, after three years working as a custodian, a contracted worker makes $11.05 an hour, while a UCSF custodian makes $17.01 an hour.

Feds Investigate Claims UC Berkeley Underpaid Custodial Workers
Source: Associated Press, October 1, 2015

Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a UC Berkeley custodial contractor underpaid workers who cleaned up after football games and other sporting events at the university. The Los Angeles Times reports employees of Performance First Building Services say they often worked 16-hour days, but were denied overtime and only paid $10 an hour.

UCSC wage hike effective Oct. 1
Source: Ryan Masters, Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 1, 2015

UC Santa Cruz increased the minimum wage for employees, including contract workers, to $13 an hour Thursday. The wage hike is the first stage of a plan to raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour Oct. 1, 2016 and $15 an hour Oct. 1, 2017. All employees hired to work at least 20 hours a week are eligible for the raise, which UC President Janet Napolitano has dubbed the UC Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan. Napolitano announced the plan in July “to support employees and their families, and to ensure that workers being paid through a UC contract are likewise fairly compensated.” … Not everyone is convinced that the Fair Wage/Fair Work Plan is a victory for contract workers. Todd Stenhouse, communications director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, UC’s largest employee union, said the wage hike perpetuates the contract worker’s “second-class citizen status.” “Contract workers make 53 percent lower wages than the directly employed and receive no benefits,” he said. “While we’re pleased that they will be making $13, the private company paying them charges the UC system $30 to $33 an hour.”

Workers allege 80-hour weeks with no overtime at UC Berkeley sporting events
Source: Chris Kirkham, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2015

Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a UC Berkeley custodial contractor underpaid workers who cleaned up after Golden Bears football games and other sporting events, denying them overtime pay for weeks that stretched to 80 or 90 hours. The probe of Performance First Building Services, which has provided janitorial services at UC Berkeley for nearly seven years, was launched by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the agency and former and current employees. … The state Legislature passed a bill last month that would require UC contractors to pay wages and benefits on par with direct employees of UC who perform comparable work. The bill has not yet been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Juliana Robles worked at Performance First from 2008 until she was fired in July, cleaning the California Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley. During football season, she said, she worked seven days a week, often putting in 16-hour days from Thursday through Saturday to prepare for and clean up after Golden Bears games. She said she never received more than $10 an hour, though California law requires that employees be paid at least 1.5 times their regular pay after exceeding eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Robles said Performance First evaded the rules by issuing her checks under two names — one for her and one for her boyfriend, who hadn’t worked at the company for years.

UC system is shortchanging low-wage contract workers
Source: Bulmaro Vicente, Sacramento Bee, September 30, 2015

In opposing state Sen. Ricardo Lara’s Equal Pay for Equal Work measure (Senate Bill 376), UC administrators are doubling down and claiming that their recently enacted minimum wage increase somehow solves the problem. It doesn’t come close. First, the minimum wage fails to meet the standard of equal pay for equal work. Instead, it condemns thousands of people to permanent, second-class status and a life of poverty. It’s also worth noting that the day after UC’s minimum wage was introduced, 15 of the highest paid administrators – some earning almost $1 million in base salary every year – were granted yet another pay raise by UC regents. One week later came reports that UC paid former President Mark Yudof more than $500,000 for not working. UC’s suggestion that equal pay for contractors is somehow cost-prohibitive does not even begin to pass the smell test. The truth is – as with food-insecure students – UC knows very little about its contractors.

Student, community activists organize ‘speak-out’ for subcontracted workers Thursday
Source: Ishaan Srivastava and Young Min Kim, Daily Californian, September 27, 2015

Student and community activists organized a ”speak-out” for workers Thursday evening, raising their concerns regarding the campus administration’s use of subcontracted workers. … The university’s contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees stipulates that subcontracted employees cannot be hired solely to save money on wages or benefits that would have been paid to UC employees. The document specifies various circumstances under which subcontracted workers can be used, including instances in which a special service or expertise is better provided by an outside contractor, and for financial necessity. The Student Labor Committee alleged that subcontractors are paid 53 percent less for some jobs than workers directly employed by the campus.

UC Opposes Bill to Increase Wages for Contract Workers
Source: Kelsey Brugger, Santa Barbara Independent, September 20, 2015

… 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. But the UC Office of the President argues the legislation unfairly targets the UC system, and does not place the same requirements on the California Community College or the California State University systems. UC further argues its contract with the labor union already prohibits them from outsourcing services solely if the savings would result from paying contractors less wages and benefits for services typically done by university employees. If signed, UC argues, the bill would essentially end contract work — and the flexibility it provides for short-term projects — and cost the university system at least $36 million.

A Fight Over Economic Inequality Is Brewing At The University Of California
Source: Danny Feingold, Huffington Post, September 11, 2015

…The fate of Senate Bill 376, sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), likely will rest with Pat Brown’s son, current California Governor Jerry Brown, who has yet to indicate whether he would sign or veto the legislation. The bill would require UC contractors to meet the same wage and benefit standards as the university for comparable labor … UC argues that it has already addressed the issue of low wages through the July enactment of a $15 hourly minimum wage for all employees and contract workers. But this raise leaves intact a system whose many custodians, parking attendants, food prep workers, landscapers and others languish for years as what critics regard as perma-temps — doing the same work as UC employees but receiving significantly lower pay and few or no benefits. … UC claims it does not even know how many contractors it has across the state, let alone how many subcontracted workers these companies employ. But the union that represents UC’s blue-collar employees, AFSCME 3299 (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), believes that the vast majority of UC’s contract workers are perma-temps – long-term employees who are nevertheless considered temporary workers by their employers.

Editorial: Lawmaker’s favor for labor hamstrings UC
Source: The Sacramento Bee, August 24, 2015

… Senate Bill 376 would ban the university from outsourcing full-time jobs to companies that don’t match UC pay and benefits for comparable employment. The union estimates the proposal would increase UC’s labor costs by about $9.1 million, and improve health care and other benefits for about 650 full-time custodians, groundskeepers, caterers and other workers. UC officials say the impact is far broader and the price tag on SB 376 is more like $36 million – no small expense for a university that turns away thousands of qualified students. Hence the effort to head it off with the minimum wage. …

Why UC’s new ‘minimum wage’ falls short
Source: Kathryn Lybarger, San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2015

There is a difference between acknowledging that a problem exists and solving the problem. Case in point is the University of California’s decision last month to enact a minimum wage that will apply to “many thousands” of its contract workers — custodians, landscapers, food service workers and others who do the same jobs as career UC workers, but are instead employed by private firms who profit from paying poverty wages with no benefits.

UC’s $15 minimum wage leaves out many workers
Source: Chris Kirkham, The Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2015

Del Rio considers himself lucky. Like many of the nation’s largest employers, the University of California system relies on a vast network of subcontracted and temporary employees to fuel its daily operations — custodial work, landscaping, food preparation, security services. Many work the same shifts for years, with little in the way of job security, earning close to the minimum wage. When the UC system announced plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017 for both direct and contract employees, it rekindled a long-standing debate about working conditions at one of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions — California’s third-largest employer. UC officials said the vast majority of its direct employees already make well above $15 an hour. The university estimates only about 1.6% of its 201,000 direct employees across the state will get a raise. … A study this year from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that contingent workers, including subcontractors, earned an average of 16.7% less each week than standard employees. Such work arrangements typically lead to “lower earnings, fewer benefits and a greater reliance on public assistance,” the report concluded. … UC’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees union released a report Friday arguing that the university’s two-tier workforce model is “eliminating middle-class career pathways, and adding to the ranks of California’s working poor.” Drawing on public records requests, the report identified at least 45 contracts across the system in which subcontracted employees performed the same tasks as career UC workers.