Front line UC workers rally for higher pay while regents vote on executive raises
Patient care and service employees of UC San Diego's Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla used their lunch break to rally outside the hospital Wednesday.
"UC, UC you're no good! Treat your workers like you should," they shouted.
They were among thousands of University of California workers who rallied at campuses statewide, to protest the pay gap between UC employees and the governing members of the university system.
"The UC knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, that's the problem," said Shawn McCollum, the lead organizer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, the union that represents 6,000 hospital and service workers.
He said the rallies were happening at the same time the UC Board of Regents was voting on giving raises to their chancellors.
Last month, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla received a $500,000 raise, through an endowment funded by private donors.
"These raises have gotten out of control for the executives, and then they’re saying they don’t have money for the ordinary employees who save lives," McCollum said.
The front line workers are asking for all employees to make a minimum of $25 an hour.
Isaac Zamora, a respiratory therapist, joined the rally line on his break. He said he was disappointed when he found out that the regents were voting on giving those at the top of the pay scale another raise.
"It really made me feel that they really don’t care about the work that we do here," Zamora said.
He said it hurts to see executives get large raises, because he sees his colleagues struggling to get by.
"We’re out here asking for 5% just to keep us up so we can afford milk and bread. It stings I can’t say it doesn’t, it stings," Zamora said.
He said hospital staff didn’t hesitate to put their lives on the line during COVID-19.
"If myself and my colleagues didn’t show up it would be impossible to run this place so we stepped up. Were we scared? I’m not going to say I wasn’t scared ... the bigger goal was to help my community out and save people’s lives," he said.
Zamora said those on the front lines are now forgotten and the people who stayed home during the pandemic and often continue to do their work from home get the rewards.
His message for the UC Board of Regents is simple: "Reconsider and think about the workers before you think about yourself," he said.
They are also asking the UC system not to invest in Blackstone, a company they say is contributing to the housing crisis.
"That makes everyone really angry, everybody is having a hard time with housing right now, everyone and the place we work for is actively putting money into a company that’s making the problem worse," said McCollum. "That doesn't make sense to us, we feel like the university needs to be at the front of solving the housing crisis, it shouldn't be part of it."