UC Merced workers want new contract

Rally aimed at getting attention to situation.

November 2, 2010 

More than a dozen UC Merced clerical workers, administrative assistants and other members of the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) -- Teamsters union waved picket signs Monday in the campus quad, urging the University of California to negotiate a new contract.

CUE members said they've been without a contract for two years and haven't gotten a pay increase in three. The purpose of Monday's rally was to get the attention of UC regents and UC President Mark Yudof during his visit to the campus for the first meeting of the new chancellor selection committee, union officials said.

Susan White, president of the UC Merced CUE, said she was concerned that in the future, employees will have to contribute a higher percentage of their paychecks to their pensions -- which is subject to collective bargaining -- without a wage increase.

In September, UC Regents voted unanimously for employee members of the UC Retirement Plan to contribute 3.5 percent of their salaries into the plan, according to the University Office of the President. The university will contribute 7 percent. In July 2012, employees will pay 5 percent, and the UC will pay 10 percent.

According to Leslie Sepuka, UC spokeswoman, this is subject to collective bargaining, so the percentage could be lower for CUE employees.

Anytra Henderson, CUE statewide president, said four other union groups within the UC system have received wage increases. "They can't use the excuse that they don't have any money," she said. "They gave UPTE a 3 percent wage increase."

The union's last wage increase was in 2007.

Sepuka said the UC will continue to bargain with the union in good faith.

Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209)385-2407 or joppenheim@mercedsun-star.com.

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