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Berkeley workers support strikes

David Scharfenberg
Tuesday October 15, 2002

A small group of union activists held a teach-in on the UC Berkeley campus Monday, supporting hundreds of lecturers and clerical employees striking at five other UC campuses over wages and job security. 

“They supported us during their strike and we’re supporting them,” said Claudette Begin of the Coalition of University Employees, which represents about 18,000 clericals on UC’s nine campuses. 

UC Berkeley clericals, lecturers and nurses held a strike in late August when fall classes began on that campus. Strikes at other campuses did not begin until Monday because UC’s eight other campuses are on a quarter, rather than a semester system, and classes only recently began. 

About 1,000 lecturers at UC campuses in Santa Cruz, Irvine, Davis, Riverside and Santa Barbara took part in strikes Monday. Clericals joined in at all the campuses except Irvine. 

The strikes will continue today and UC Berkeley unions plan to hold a large rally in support of the work stoppages at noon. 

Clericals are seeking 15 percent wage increases over the course of two years and improvements in workplace safety while lecturers are seeking greater job security. 

“We’re saying, as a policy, it’s really unacceptable to be treating faculty as disposable,” said Michelle Squitieri, UC Berkeley field representative for the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents the lecturers.  

University officials said they are working hard to resolve the issues at the bargaining table and accused the unions of engaging in illegal, counter-productive strikes. 

“Strikes are not going to serve anyone and they are probably going to frustrate and delay contract settlement,” said university spokesperson Paul Schwartz. 

Union officials say there are about 4,000 lecturers systemwide, including those who teach just one class, while the university puts the figure at 2,500.