University and skilled trade workers clash over fair compensation

Skilled trade workers strike on Library Walk at UCSD. (Sylvia O/The Triton)

Members of the Teamsters Local 2010 Skilled Trade Workers Union are on strike today in response to stalled contract negotiations with UCSD administrators. 90 percent of workers including electricians, elevator mechanics, plumbers, facilities workers, and others voted on Wednesday, Nov. 9 in favor of striking today, Thursday, Nov. 17. The union members will withhold all maintenance services on campus, UCSD Medical Center, and Thornton Hospital. The official legal notice of strike was sent to Chancellor Khosla and UCSD Health CEO Patty Maysent on Nov. 3.

After the union’s protest on Library Walk on Oct. 25, the union and the administrators attempted to finalize negotiations on Oct. 26, Oct. 28, and Nov. 4 but did not reach an agreement regarding issues of pay and benefits.

“Some progress was made, but the parties remain far apart on critical issues. UCSD continues to refuse to negotiate back pay, insists on the right to unilaterally change health and retirement benefits and employee share of cost, and will not agree to a raise in the last year of the contract,” Union Representative Robert Leonard said.

The commissioned survey conducted by the Occidental College’s Urban & Environmental Policy Institute shows that 70 percent of UC workers struggle with food insecurity, which is defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

According to the UC San Diego University Communications and Public Affairs’ official statement, the union members did not receive any salary increase due to the union’s idleness during bargaining, leaving its members without a contract. University claims that UC San Diego skilled trade workers are compensated at a level above market among peer institutions, based on the university’s recent market analysis.

“To date, over 20 bargaining sessions have been held in an effort to ratify a new collective agreement. During this time, the parties have reached tentative agreement on 30 articles — nearly two-thirds of the contract,” the UCSD University Communications and Public Affairs statement cited.

While the Teamsters and University acknowledge that they have made progress on negotiating fair contract terms, they have yet to reach a final agreement.

“We hope to achieve fair pay, benefits and treatment for UCSD’s skilled trades workers,” Leonard said. “Thus far the University has shown little respect or appreciation for these critically important workers, who remain dedicated to ensuring that the utility systems, facilities, buildings and classrooms that UCSD’s students, faculty, researchers, administrators and the San Diego community rely upon continue to function smoothly.”

The Union plans to continue its strike “midnight to midnight” until both sides reach agreements.

Sylvia O is a Staff Writer at The Triton.