Teamsters Local 2010 rallies for UC to improve wages, working conditions
Teamsters Local 2010 members protest outside the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center during the University of California Board of Regents meeting. The union is demanding fair wages and better working conditions at UC and California State University campuses. (Megan Cai/Daily Bruin)
May 19, 2022 4:05 p.m.
This post was updated May 22 at 10:24 p.m.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center to protest unfair wages and unsafe working conditions Thursday afternoon.
About 100 workers from Teamsters Local 2010, a union that represents approximately 15,000 University of California and California State University skilled workers, marched outside the Luskin Conference Center to demand wage increases starting at 11 a.m. The union represents about 3,600 workers at UCLA.
The protesters held signs with phrases such as “Essential Pay for Essential Workers” and “Our Work Makes ‘UC’ Work” while chanting “Who are we? Teamsters” and “What do we want? Contracts.”
The UC Board of Regents held a three-day meeting starting Tuesday in the conference center. On Wednesday, UC Divest gathered from 8:30 a.m. until the end of the regents’ meeting to protest their investment decisions.
At 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jason Rabinowitz, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010, spoke about how skilled and clerical workers need higher wages to afford groceries, rent and mortgages, gas, school for their children, and parking at the university.
“It’s nice to be called heroes. It’s nice to get a pat on the back,” Rabinowitz said at the rally. “But in the Teamsters, we have a saying: Real appreciation is a Teamster contract with fair pay and benefits.”
Some of the attending workers expressed their frustration with the UC’s treatment of those who are essential to the campuses.
Ali Tweini, who works in patient business services and is an elected member of the Teamsters Local 2010 executive board, said after the rally that even with increased inflation, the UC and CSU essential workers’ wages are not keeping up with the current economic climate.
Especially during the pandemic, workers keep UCLA running by managing building lights, maintaining lab and hospital equipment, and other tasks, said Aimee Baror, the communications director for Teamsters Local 2010. She added that many workers cannot afford to live near the university, forcing them to spend extra hours away from their families while commuting for work.
“Nothing is as valuable as time, and it’s something that we give up,” said Jeff Sharp, a plumbing facilities mechanic and a member of the Skilled Trades Bargaining Unit, after the rally. “But also, in the same turn, we enjoy what we do, and we are proud of what we do here at UCLA.”
Rabinowitz said workers are also frustrated with having to pay parking costs to come to work, especially when they do not have wage raises to compensate.
He added that workers want to be treated respectfully, as management, professors and doctors sometimes do not respect clerical and essential workers to the extent they deserve.
Sharp said UCLA has been responsive to the union’s requests and tentative agreements have been met.
Erika Cervantes, a spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, said in an emailed statement that the UC values its staff members and is currently negotiating with Teamsters Local 2010 regarding a new contract for clerical workers.
“Our overarching goal in these negotiations is a multi-year agreement that recognizes these employees’ important contributions to the UC community through fair pay, quality health and retirement benefits, and a supportive and respectful work environment,” Cervantes said in the statement.
Tweini said the UC claims that it doesn’t have enough money to raise workers’ wages despite the fact that in the California state budget, millions of dollars are allocated to the UC and CSU.
Rabinowitz added that while the UC claims workers’ pay can only increase if tuition increases, there are ways to avoid this in order to keep UCLA tuition accessible for all students.
“This university can afford to pay its workers fairly and at the same time to make education accessible for working people. That’s our goal as a public university. That’s what we fight for,” Rabinowitz said.
The rally came to a close around 12:30 p.m. after Rabinowitz gave his speech.
Contributing reports from Christine Tran, national news and higher education editor.