Strikers Find Support From Berkeley Unions

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UC Berkeley Labor Coalition held a town hall meeting yesterday to discuss strategies for supporting strikers at other UC campuses.

Members of the coalition said they plan to have informational picketing at the campus's entrances in support of next week's clerical worker and lecturer strikes at other UC campuses, as well as teach-ins and discussions about labor issues at Memorial Glade.

Coalition of Union Employees and UC American Federation of Teachers union members will strike at UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz Oct. 15 and 16.

"The main point of this (coalition meeting) is that we want to catch people as they're going to work and class," said Michelle Squitieri, UC American Federation of Teachers representative to the UC Berkeley campus.

The labor coalition includes UC Berkeley's unions for lecturers, maintenance workers, graduate students, nurses, and clerical, professional and technical workers.

CUE President Michael-David Sasson said health and safety was a major issue in the negotiations.

"If you're new to a job, the university is willing to look at your work station," Sasson said. "If you've been working at a job for years, they'll only fix your work station if your department has a line-item budget for health and safety."

Temporary employees will be another key issue in the negotiations, Squitieri said. The university treats lecturers as temporary hires, she said, whose contracts can be terminated virtually at will.

"Lecturers have to reapply for their jobs every year," Squitieri said. "The university can just decide not to rehire them. The current proposal allows the university to terminate lecturers without justification."

John Lane, a member of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union, said increased hiring of temporary positions decreases job security.

"The university has plenty of full-time positions available," he said. "You can't have any security when they're made into casual, temporary positions."

UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz said health and safety and temporary employees were issues "the university continued to talk about at the table with the unions."


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