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Labor Struggles Continue at UCSC

It appears that UC is bending over backwards to offer Ms. Denton and Ms. Kalonji such lucrative incentives at the same time that service and clerical workers have been without a contract for months, and struggle to stay above the poverty line.
I am a clerical worker at UCSC, where I have waited with baited breath for the University to negotiate a new contract since ours expired last September. The Controversial move by the University of California in hiring the partner of the incoming UCSC Chancellor cast light on the hypocritical and disparate nature of the UC’s employment practices. In a closed door session, UC Regents approved the creation of a $192k a year job for Ms. Kalonji-a 30% increase over her salary at the University of Washington. Incidentally, we clericals haven’t received raises since 2003, despite the fact that our workloads have increased to the breaking point--UCSC has the highest number of workers compensation cases--due to a hiring freeze and departmental cutbacks allegedly due to the state’s current fiscal crisis.

It appears that UC is bending over backwards to offer Ms. Denton and Ms. Kalonji such lucrative incentives at the same time that service and clerical workers have been without a contract for months, and struggle to stay above the poverty line. Where is the parity in this? I seem to recall a certain Austrian-American governor bemoaning the spending problems of California, and still the UC Regents approved such a costly yet very generous deal for Ms. Denton and her partner, Ms. Kalonji. Perhaps that is because the UC system suffers not from a budget crisis--they have over $5 billion in unrestricted reserves--but from a distribution crisis. What UC officials fail to realize and apparently don’t appreciate is that we are ALL highly qualified professionals in our own right who already ARE assets to UCSC--shouldn’t that mean that we are as equally entitled to a proportionally beneficial deal? When I read that Ms. Kalonji “also is getting a tenured professorship.? That just made me appreciate the hypocrisy and irony even more. As you know, tenure entitles teachers and professors to extra benefits from their institutions. I acknowledge that qualified professors deserve those extra benefits, and I assure you that we are not asking for anything “extra? from UCSC, only what is universally accepted as fair, and is currently in place at our sister campuses. We should not be paid an average of 15% less than our counterparts at UCSF or UCLA. I can understand why a moving allowance is necessary to entice professionals to the Santa Cruz area--we all know how ludicrously expensive it is. But your article failed to mention that while Ms. Denton will receive over $68,000 as a moving allowance, Ms. Kalonji will receive her own moving allowance of $50,000, despite the fact that she and Ms. Denton currently share a home in the Seattle area. The topping on this dessert is that if they choose to live in the Chancellor’s official residence, they will do so at no cost to them. I can only wish that UCSC equally considers our housing difficulties when they drag their feet to the bargaining table. I respect our educators and the first-class education they help UCSC provide, but as a loyal and hardworking UCSC employee I ask--no, I demand--the same respect for a job well done. That respect, in the form of wage parity and responsible distribution of resources, is sorely needed to remedy UCSC’s second-class treatment of it’s service and clerical workers.
 
 


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