By Ryanne Slagiel
Photo by Colyn Messecar
CSU: Step Up or Strike Out! This is the chant that was on signs, shirts and fliers as picketers lined up at each entrance to CI on Nov. 14. A one-day strike was authorized and organized by Teamsters Local 2010, a California State University-based unit of the nationwide Teamsters union. Teamsters represents skilled trades workers, such as electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters and more. Kendon Carlson, lead electrician here at CI, said, “We keep the lights on, we keep the power flowing, we keep the water flowing” and much more.
With such a key role in keeping the university running, the Teamsters and the workers feel they have not been fairly compensated by the CSU system. The first negotiation was for a 1% increase in pay, which Teamsters rejected, as it did not cover the cost-of-living increase. The CSU continues their insult to Teamsters, attempting to eliminate hazard pay and IRP’s, which are the only current path to a raise within the CSU system.
The strike was authorized after negotiations were not met on Oct. 31 by the CSU. “This strike is to ultimately gain attention for the CSU’s, the chancellor’s office, to understand that we are organized and we are ready to strike,” Theresa Kocis, supervising electrician explained. “This is kind of a, a foretaste; we don’t want to, we would rather them be fair in their bargaining, but they have not been.” Entirely legal and sanctioned, employers were notified beforehand and picketers themselves were not required to inform their employers of their role in the strike. The CSU, however, unlawfully advised picketers to warn their employers if they would not be reporting for work. The Teamsters Local 2010 website claims this to be a continuation of the CSU’s previous and current unfair labor practices.
22 of the 23 CSU campuses went on strike on Tuesday. The strikes attracted a large amount of attention and were participated in not only by Teamsters Local 2010, but by other Teamsters and union supporters. Jeremy Goldberg, Executive Director of the Central Coast Labor Council, which oversees 75 unions, came out to support. He echoed a common sentiment in the crowds here at CI and elsewhere, saying, “There’s been a lot of workers on strike in the last year, right, through this calendar year, and they’re all in the same situation, where life has gotten more expensive, and um, tuition has gone up, groceries have gone up, car payments have gone up, rent’s gone up, and pay’s gotta go up too.”
The picketers advised students and faculty not to attend classes during their strike and handed out fliers with a QR code leading to a website where anybody can write to CSU Chancellor Mildred Garcia asking for a fair contract for CSU Teamsters. They asked students, faculty and community members alike to help them achieve fair compensation and contracts. “We’re out of contract, but yet we show up for work every day, we work hard for the campus every day,” Carlson said, “it’s really about providing the best for the students and giving everybody their fair share.”
“It’s hurtful when you see the structure of the CSUs,” Kocis concluded, “It’s frustrating. So, that’s why we’re here.”
The picketers on Tuesday are those who keep CI running smoothly. Among tuition hikes and faculty strikes, the voices of all people who are a part of the CSU system, even if they are not students, deserve to be heard.