News In Brief: University Employees Begin Negotiations for Better Wages

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Chants of "Two percent won't pay the rent!" emanated from the crowd outside California Hall yesterday as UC Berkeley employees rallied for higher wages.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said there is an increasing wage gap between the university's management and its workers.

"We're here to say to the chancellor and the UC regents that we won't take it anymore," said Philip Chiu, a union spokesperson. "We want fairness and equality for all workers, not just management."

Yesterday was the first day of wage negotiations between UC officials and the union, which represents 17,000 university employees.

"This is the first day of negotiations and we want them to know that statewide, the union is getting stronger," Chiu said. "Our workers can't even afford to live in Berkeley."

Union members presented a list of demands to Debra Harrington, a university labor relations spokesperson.

"As you all know, the negotiations are going on as we speak, but I will take your requests back (to the university)," she said.

Javier Vallejo, a union member and custodian at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that while he did not feel particularly encouraged by the university's response to the rally, the union will not give up.

"We're going to continue our fight," Vallejo said. "We're going to keep coming back until they listen to us. The management has been very unfair with us for the past 10 years. We've had 25-cent raises for the past three or four years while the management gets 18 percent."


Handgun Lawsuit Wins New Trial

The lawsuit brought by a Berkeley boy's parents against a major gun manufacturer has won a new trial.

An Alameda Superior Court judge ruled Friday in favor of a new trial for a suit by Griffin and Lynn Dix against Beretta, U.S.A. Corp.

The Dixes sued the manufacturer after their son, Kenzo, was accidentally shot and killed in 1994 by his friend. The two were playing when his friend brought out his father's Beretta handgun. The friend removed the ammunition magazine but the gun still had one bullet inside its chamber.

In the original 1998 trial, jurors ruled against the Dixes' claim that the company should be liable, but the trial was found to have been tainted by juror misconduct by an appellate court, said Nancy Hwa, from the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.

The judge then reversed his decision and allowed a retrial.

The Dixes are pushing forward with their case that the gun should have had an internal trigger lock. This was the first child-proof gun case to go to trial, Hwa said.



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