UC Riverside unions join eight-campus protest
By Ryan Hagen
University employees picketed Thursday, Feb. 1, at UC Riverside and seven other University of California campuses.
The protest comes after contract negotiations between the system and its largest union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, reached an impasse. At UCR, it focused on what members allege is a pattern of hiring outside workers for supervisorial custodian roles instead of what the union says are qualified in-house employees.
Two custodians interviewed two weeks ago for supervisor post, but were told they weren’t chosen “because they didn’t interview good,” said Leo Tolliver, the union’s organizer in Riverside.
“We didn’t know this was ‘America’s Got Talent,’” he said. “What matters is that they’re good workers, not their interview skills.”
UCR spokesman John Warren said union affairs were handled by the UC president’s office.
In an email, that office said administrators appreciate employees’ work and had offered fair wage increases, quality health benefits, excellent retirement benefits and additional professional development opportunities.
“UC has bargained in good faith since spring for service workers and since fall for patient care employees,” wrote Claire Doan, director of media relations.
In Riverside, protesters marched from the bell tower to the chancellor’s office, where representatives met with an assistant to UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox. Though the chancellor is not responsible for the union’s contracts, members asked for a letter of support.
Unions representing student workers and technical employees also marched in the UCR rally, which drew about 30 people.