To the Editor:
Members of my family have been graduating from UC Berkeley since 1896. I was born while my parents lived in UC Village so I often refer to myself as a Cal brat. I graduated from UCB in 1978 and my son became an alumnus in 1993. I have been working here since 1985. So, as you might suspect, Cal is in my blood. I love this place. And I love my job. What price do I pay for the privilege of working here? I have to have a second job to pay the bills.
I suppose working two jobs to support myself is good for the soul, but I envy those people who have the weekend off and actually have time to cook dinner every night. The other day I was excited about something for the first time in 10 years. I read in the paper that another CEO bit the dust. How sad that someone else’s misfortune is the only thing that can make me happy. But it just shows you how depressing it is to work for less pay than you deserve while people who run companies throw money around like it grows on trees. And, believe me, the University of California is looking more like Enron every day.
My friends encourage me to have a positive attitude. Be optimistic they say. But how can I be upbeat when some people at UC get $30,000 raises while I would love to just take home $28,000 a year? The other day I heard on TV that there is a shortage of policemen because the starting salary was so low—it was only $45,000 a year. I was tempted to pass myself off as policeman, but I think the citizens of Berkeley might get suspicious if I offer to type up their correspondence instead of arresting the guy who stole their car.
You might ask, what do I do for my exorbitant salary—which is only 21 percent behind my peers. Well, I make sure that eight professors are organized and ready to teach. I copy books, type books, edit books, prepare readers, re-stock the coffee in the faculty lounge when I have time and try to look happy when professor No. 8 appears at my door. His name is Mr. Procrastination. Great guy, but he can barely get into his office without me. He forgets his key every other day and when I am not here he is always late to class.
My daughter has also worked for the university, at Cal Extension, for the last 10 years. She has seen her workload double and many of her friends laid off. She finally had to leave last month because she could not afford the commute and parking fees. I have always dreamed that we would both retire from the university. Now, I am not sure I can afford to stay.
Does it sound like I am complaining about my job? I hope not, because I love my job. I am just unhappy about my salary. I need a raise every year to keep up with the rent. My landlord sends me a lovely Christmas card each December, with a little note attached telling me how much the rent will go up in January. If I can get just that much of a raise at work at least I could break even.