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We’ve heard loads recently about Wall Street barons seeing their assets plummet, the credit crisis rearing its ugly head as banks suspend access to savings and loans, and the implosion of the American financial market as the spindly scaffolding created by speculation crumbles. But what does this mean literally for most Americans? For UC San Diego service workers, it means the retardation of wage negotiations with the school, which UCSD groundskeeper Jorge Olvera claims pays 25 to 30% less than other workers in the San Diego area.
The workers’ call for formal communication is the latest step in a series of negotiations between the university and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees concerning new patient-care technical and service worker contracts. In its most recent proposal, the university promised last month to implement a $13.25 minimum hourly wage by 2012 and a step-based raise system that rewards employees for their experience.
“All UC employees deserve to be compensated fairly, and we continue to work hard on our side of the negotiations to try to resolve remaining differences,” UCOP spokesman Paul Schwartz said. “But an agreement requires compromise on both sides. We believe our proposals are financially realistic, especially in light of the current state budget crisis, and we remain hopeful that an agreement is near.”
However, the union refused the offer, claiming that the university can afford more than it is willing to give.
To help gain public support, UC service workers have launched a Web site, www.FacingPovertyAtUC.org.
As banks become less willing to provide loans, less students are able to attend college, and school budgets tighten. We’ve seen employment freezes at schools like Boston University, and now already underpaid workers may need to wait even longer before earning the compensation they deserve. The financial crisis is not isolated to Wall Street suits or greedy corporate types, no matter how much our political candidates drop the buzz words. A sick economy unfortunately will reverberate into upper education institutions and be felt at colleges once considered bubbles from reality. The solution isn’t clear, but college students would do well to use those noggins and educate themselves about the policies of our presidential candidates before voting.