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UCSC braces for strike by lecturers, clerical workers

UCSC braces for strike by lecturers, clerical workers


October 11, 2002
Sentinel staff writer

Lecturers and clerical workers at UC Santa Cruz plan to strike Monday and Tuesday out of frustration with delays in reaching new contracts.
Union representatives vow to shut the 14,000-student campus, disrupting classes and halting construction of classrooms, in an effort to gain an acceptable wage settlement. Clerical workers have been without a contract for more than a year, lecturers for more than two years.
Similar strikes are planned at UC campuses in Davis, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Diego.
At least 100 clerical workers took over the plaza in front of UCSC’s Bay Tree Bookstore shortly after noon Thursday, chanting and banging pots and pans to rally students and faculty to their cause. Some carried signs indicating the strike will be supported by other employees, such as technical staff, teaching assistants and graduate students.
“We are hungry for respect,” said Pat True, who makes about $2,100 a month fielding problems with 150 campus copiers.
Sarah Rabkin, a lecturer in writing, read a poem to the crowd.
“Our movement is stronger if we bring poetry into it,” she said.
Contract negotiations are handled systemwide by the UC Office of President. UC spokesman Paul Schwartz called the strikes illegal, citing complaints by the state labor board against the two unions that staged a walkout at UC Berkeley on the first day of school.
“These strikes are not going to serve anyone, let alone employees or students,” Schwartz said.
The university has made compromises, he said, and the unions must do likewise.
True predicted that construction workers at UCSC would not cross picket lines, delaying projects such as the Physical Sciences Building, the new Engineering Building and apartments for Cowell, Porter and Stevenson colleges.
“I feel bad about it, but not that bad,” he said.
Lisa Gustafson, a payroll coordinator and president of the local clerical workers’ union, agreed that a construction shutdown would hurt the university financially. But she said striking employees would suffer, too.
“We lose two days pay,” she said.
She said she isn’t sure how many workers will stay home.
Leaders of the Faculty Association have asked their members to stand with their colleagues.
John Simpson, UCSC’s executive vice chancellor, has asked all faculty and staff to “come to work and meet their obligations.”
Picket lines are expected not only at the entrance to campus, but also at the University Town Center and Holiday Inn downtown and at Long Marine Lab. The strike also is expected to halt UPS deliveries.
Many students say they support the clerical workers and lecturers in their quest for higher pay.
Eric Blanc, a freshman from San Francisco, manned a table in front of the bookstore Thursday asking students to sign pledges supporting the strike.
“We have 1,400 pledges so far, and we’ll get another 1,000 at least,” he said.
Blanc said he learned about the employees’ contract dispute the day he moved in on campus.
“They’re getting screwed so I decided to help them out,” he said.
Other students said they fully support the strike but will have to cross picket lines to get to classes taught by professors who aren’t backing the walkout.
“We have to do what the professors tell us,” said Mollie Lewis, a sophomore from Santa Maria.
“Professors have no reason to strike,” said Nicole Yamamoto, a senior sociology major. “They have tenure, job security and parking spots.”
Campus spokeswoman Liz Irwin said there are no plans to cancel campus events.
Administrators are looking into transportation arrangements for representatives of several dozen graduate schools coming to campus for a grad school fair.
They also have arranged for additional buses to shuttle students onto campus because the Metro bus drivers, who are unionized, are not expected to cross picket lines.
Irwin said she expected Metro buses to drop off students at the base of campus, where they could pick up university-run shuttles.
Asked whether a strike could shut the campus, she said, “It won’t be without impact but it’s too soon to say exactly what will happen.”
Contact Jondi Gumz at jgumz (at)

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