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LOCAL News :: Education & Youth : Labor & Economics

The Case for CUE: Wage Parity and More

Library assistants at UC earn 33% less than in the CSU system.
In April a group of library staff got together to make picket signs in front of McHenry Library, to use in support of the AFSCME 3299 strike on April 14. Although library assistants are a small part of the CUE (clerical) union, we supported the service workers in their search for a living wage. They should be able to support their families with dignity, have a chance to be promoted out of entry-level jobs, and have salaries that are equal with what service workers make in the California State University system doing the same jobs. The difference is quite considerable, custodians earn between 15-27% less at UCSC than in the CSU system. Many of them have to work two jobs to fill basic family needs; food, housing, clothing.

Last Thursday the library assistants went out on a sympathy strike again to support the UPTE union, which represents the technical workers at UCSC. At the rally it was announced that 4 student employees who had won the SERAP award have decided to donate their award money to help the unions in their struggle for justice. The students and unions on campus are becoming united in this struggle.

Soon the library assistants are likely to go out on strike with all the clerical workers of CUE. We have supported all the other unions thanks to the foresight of CUE union organizers who did NOT sign a clause that UC wanted in our contract that would not allow us to go out on strike in support of other unions. At present CUE is the only UCSC union that can go out on sympathy strikes in support of our co-workers and fellow UCSC employees. That puts us in a unique position in the struggle of social justice in the UC system. Now we are going to need your help and in a big way. We need to make a big splash before classes are over and the summer vacation starts. We are asking your support for the possible up-coming CUE strike. Join the picket lines.

Library assistants earn 33% less than in the CSU system (see the Fact Finding Report by an independent arbitrator between CUE and UC at The University of California is the premier system of public higher education in this state. The qualities of the library services have to meet the informational needs of this community of students, educators and researchers. How is it possible that we are so underpaid compared to other public university employees doing the same job? We even earn less than administrative assistants at UCSC whose salaries lag behind the market rate by 13-24%.

Gross wage disparities exist between UC clericals who do the same work and live in areas with comparable cost of living. UCSC pays clericals here as if we were still a rural area with a low cost of living--so we are paid thousands of dollars less a year than staff at UC Berkeley doing the same job. The cost of living is comparable in both places according to the US Department of Housing & Urban Development with Berkeley even being slightly less expensive. Unfortunately this doesn’t just affect UCSC staff it also affects student employees. Students have to pay the same tuition and cost of living as at UCB but are paid less for their on- campus employment. They make between $1, 2 even 3 dollars less an hour for their work depending on the job. Is that fair? We have started a campaign called “We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto! End Wage Disparities Now!?

UC isn’t being supportive of Library Assistants, but Library Assistants support you. We help you with research, instruction, public service, reference, interlibrary loan, circulation, reserves, visual resources, film & music, special collections, computer help, exhibits, archive processing and copy service. We handle purchasing, cataloging, labeling, mending books, periodicals, computer resources and many other library materials for your use. And we hire and supervise over 200 great student library employees every year.

AFSCME and CUE are the most diverse units at UCSC and the most under paid according to the CUE/UC study. Most are immigrants, women and/or people of color. Our children shouldn’t live in poverty. We should be able to send them to UCSC if that is their wish and they are admitted. We need to break the cycles of poverty in this state starting with justice and fair treatment of all university employees. Many professors at UCSC work hard to expose the students to diverse points of view, to understand the dynamics of classism, sexism and racism in our society and the world. Isn’t it ironic that the same UC system we all work for is perpetuating these same social ills in its treatment of its lowest paid, most diverse and least able to defend itself population?

Tell the Regents and Chancellor Denton that we need wage parity with UC Berkeley. We need to be paid as well as other California State University employees doing the same job. Our student employees need to be paid the same whichever UC they go to. You pay the same tuition, don’t you? You have to pay the same for textbooks, food, rent, clothes, etc.

Please support us! United we can make a change for the better.

Chela Lucas
CUE Member
McHenry Library
Film & Music Center



We are the people who

• process all of your records, financial aid, payroll, accounts, invoices, grades and evaluations, housing and food necessities, etc…

• Catalog and shelve books and magazines for you

• Schedule your classes, and reserve rooms and equipment

• Run Resource Centers for your needs, cultural, academic, etc.…

• Facilitate programs for your education and entertainment

• Advise you and provide information to prepare you for tenures, reviews and graduations

At the UCSC campus, we are 600 administrative assistants, library assistants, program assistants, college and departmental advisers, secretaries, public safety dispatchers, childcare assistants, cashiers, and more.


• Wages that reflect inflation and the high cost-of-living

• Respect on-the-job and a chance to advance.

• No increases in parking fees and health premiums.

• Wage parity between campuses


- 80% of us earn less than a living wage at UCSC. (California Budget Project)

- The majority of us are women and/or people of color.

- A recent study released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition in D.C. showed that Santa Cruz County is the fifth most expensive county in the country in which to be a renter. They estimate that a typical worker needs to earn at least $25.90 an hour (or $53,872/yr) to be able to afford a two-bedroom rental in Santa Cruz County. 100% of the UC Clericals earn far below this.

- “Wage Parity? between campuses has to do with the fact that because UCSC was originally zoned as a “rural? area, Clericals in certain classifications at UC Santa Cruz earn up to 15% less than what their counterparts make at other UC campuses, for doing exactly the same work.

- With continued campus expansion and hiring freezes, clerical workloads have increased exponentially with no sign of stopping, often leading to job-related injuries.

- UCSC has the highest number of workers compensation cases out of all the UC campuses; low-wage Clerical, Service and Student Workers account for the vast majority of these cases.

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