by Kathryn Lybarger | February 05, 2013
Executive excess is hurting our economy and putting America’s future at risk – and it’s not just in the private sector. That’s why we are demanding an end to golden handshakes at our workplace, the University of California (UC). Every dollar spent on lavish perks for the big shots means worse care for our patients, and more money out of the pockets of struggling students and low-wage workers.
Should 140 of University of California’s top executives get more than $400 million in retirement benefits? Is it fair for them to get excessive compensation at the same time they are demanding custodians take paycuts?
These are the questions that are the center of our struggle – the 22,000 care partners, cooks, and custodial workers employed by the University of California (AFSCME UC 3299). We work on 10 campuses and five medical centers across the state, helping more than 200,000 students and 2 million patients. We care about the students and patients, and just want a fair shake for our families.
Last Thursday, joined by students, California Nurses Association, and University Professional and Technical Employees, thousands of us took our message to the streets in picket lines and demonstrations up and down the state. We shut down a major intersection in Berkeley. Students joined us as we marched to the executive offices at UC Riverside.
Administrators need to cut executive pay and pensions before considering any more tuition hikes, layoffs, or cuts to frontline workers. UC’s outgoing Pres. Mark Yudof will get a $230,000 annual benefit, on top of his regular pension, for the rest of his life – after just five years of service. Yet UC wants to cut benefits for my co-workers like Maria, a cook who will earn closer to $1,000 per month after decades of service.
That’s not how you build a strong middle class and a world class health care delivery system. It’s how you destroy them. It’s time for UC administrators to get their priorities straight. We hope you will join us in our struggle to end executive excess at the University of California and elsewhere.
Kathryn Lybarger is a gardener at UC Berkeley, president of AFSCME UC 3299 and an AFSCME International vice president.