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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

    CSU Maintenance Workers Protest Unfair Wages

    Stan+State+police+watch+over+protesters+as+an+event+marking+the+grand+re-opening+of+the+J.+Burton+Vasche+Library+takes+place+nearby.+%28Signal+Photo%2FAlex+Ramirez%29

    Stan State police watch over protesters as an event marking the grand re-opening of the J. Burton Vasche Library takes place nearby. (Signal Photo/Alex Ramirez)

    As one crowd gathered on the Stanislaus State campus to celebrate the grand re-opening of the newly remodeled J. Burton Vasche Library on April 4, another crowd gathered within earshot for a non-related protest. Organized by Teamsters Local 2010, Stan State maintenance workers representing Unit 6 – the CSU Skilled Trades unit – held picket signs and chanted about unfair wages.
    The demonstration, which has been taking place on CSU campuses state-wide, stems from stalled wage negotiations with the CSU Board, which the union had expected to culminate in wage increases for 2020 and 2021.
    Those raises never came.
    Anthony Cardinale, a union steward representing the CSU Trades unit and a painter at California State University, Monterey Bay, explained that as COVID-19 shut down CSU campuses and students, faculty and most staff went remote, the maintenance workers—considered essential employees—kept working on-site.
    “We had said, we will put negotiations for upcoming raises on the backburner until the money comes in,” Cardinale said. “When the money came in, they didn’t want to negotiate.”
    Budget talks had begun for at least one of the two years the group asked to negotiate for, but talks went stale when Chancellor Joseph Castro resigned in February amid allegations that he mishandled a sexual harassment case at Fresno State.
    The group filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the labor board, Cardinale said, and now organizers have been rallying by holding protests like the one in Turlock, at CSU campuses up and down the state in an effort to bring the CSU back to the table.
    It’s not only the two years’ worth of wage increases that they’re concerned with, they also take issue with competing with new hires for the same pay.
    Cardinale said another union recently funded a study examining CSU salary inversion throughout the state, which describes cases where experienced employees earn a lower salary than new hires of the same rank.
    “People at the university aren’t being encouraged to remain at the university as pay falls behind the private sector,” he said.
    While the protests will continue in the coming days across CSU campuses, organizers hope to get the attention of those at the top level to let them know they’re there to do the work that’s needed and they want to continue to do so without the CSU’s hiring third-party contractors, which are often more expensive anyway.
    “We care about our jobs, we want to do this work, and we want to keep this work in shop,” Cardinale said.
    As the union heads into negotiations for a new contract, Cardinale said they’re trying to show that they’re a cohesive unit that’s willing to work together and they hope their protests remind those at the bargaining table of the leverage they have.
    Jess Lindo, an organizer with Local 2010, said everyone just wants to be treated fairly.
    “We just want them to come back to the table and negotiate,” he said. “It has to start with a conversation.”
    Jose Fuentes, also with Teamsters local 2010, said he doesn’t think what’s being offered is fair and just wants to see maintenance workers recognized and respected for the work they do.
    “All they’re offering is a four percent raise for two years, which is two percent per year. We don’t feel that that’s good enough,” he said. “We’re just asking for something decent.” 
    In an email to Signal staff on the issue, Hazel J. Kelly, Public Affairs Manager for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs in the CSU Chancellor’s office said, “The CSU values its employees and is committed to providing appropriate levels of compensation. We continue to meet at the bargaining table with the representative of Teamsters Local 2010 regarding salary and benefits. In all contact negotiations, CSU’s positions are grounded with an eye toward serving students and operating on a balanced budget.”

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    CSU Maintenance Workers Protest Unfair Wages