A protest at Thornton Hospital is among the actions planned across the state Thursday by the University of California’s largest union to push back against proposals they say disproportionately hurt low-wage workers of color.
AFSCME Local 3299 plans to rally at the UC San Diego hospital at noon. Among the issues they’re raising are pay raises for high-ranking leaders, severance pay for chancellors and tuition hikes, the union said.
“Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King and hundreds of courageous heroes in Memphis risked everything to demand dignity, equality, and respect for working people,” said union President Kathryn Lybarger. “This fight goes on today, as UC administrators seek to finance their secret slush funds, executive pay raises and half-million dollar parachutes for disgraced ex-chancellors with tuition hikes for students and low-wage workers.”
Her slush fund criticism is in reference to a 2017 state audit that uncovered $175 million in off-the-books money UC officials had set aside while pushing for tuition hikes and ever-increasing appropriations from the Legislature. UC President Janet Napolitano characterized the undeclared surplus as part of a reserve for contingencies and outlying expenditures.
The golden “parachutes” swipe was aimed at former UC President Mark Yudof, who received $546,000 in retirement pay and extras from the UC system in 2014 — a year after he stepped down. According to published reports, almost three dozen former UC employees each received more than $300,000 in pension benefits in 2016.
The UC Board of Regents is slated to consider a system-wide 2.5 percent tuition hike in May. Students were hit with a 2.7 percent increase last year.
The union represents over 24,000 service, medical and administrative employees at the UC campuses, clinics and research laboratories, according to the union.
Protests are also planned in Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.
— City News Service
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