UC Berkeley News
Labor update

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Campus custodians and current labor issues

– Union custodians at the University of California have been rallying on campuses to raise awareness about their pay, especially at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara. The custodians are covered by a three-year contract in effect through January 2008, but they say that to make a living wage in these communities they need an increase to their hourly wages. Below is background and information that may be helpful to members of the campus community interested in this issue.

Custodians and the union that represents them

  • Custodians are in the service employees bargaining unit represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
  • The service employees bargaining unit includes approximately 7,000 employees on all UC campuses.
  • In addition to custodians, the service employees unit includes food service workers, cooks, security guards, parking representatives, building maintenance workers, gardeners, bus drivers and mail processors.
  • UC Berkeley has about 770 employees in the service bargaining unit, approximately 400 of whom are custodians.

Custodian pay and the collective bargaining agreement

  • AFSCME has negotiated a single labor agreement for all 7,000 service employees at UC. The agreement covers all UC campuses and runs from May 2005 through January 31, 2008.
  • The contract includes an approximate 12.5 percent pay increase over three years for all of the employees in the service unit, including custodians.
  • The average hourly salary for UC Berkeley university-supported custodial workers is $14.53 per hour ($30,339 annually), and for custodians in self-supported auxiliary housekeeping positions it is $12.77 per hour ($26,664 annually).

Current AFSCME custodial wage and market issues

  • AFSCME is asking for an equity increase for custodians, which is permissible without bargaining under the closed contract.
  • UC offered to use funds stipulated in the contract for market equity increases to provide custodians with an increase in May. AFSCME rejected the University's proposal.
  • AFSCME also asked the Legislature to add additional funds to the University budget specifically to pay for increases for custodians at Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. However, the final 2006-07state budget did not include the requested budget augmentation.
  • Because the contract has market-equity provisions that are UC-wide, and AFSCME has raised a market-equity concern on multiple campuses, the Office of the President is meeting with AFSCME regarding their concerns.
  • An interim equity increase must be approved at the system level. Campuses may not make equity increases to the contract unilaterally.
  • At UC Berkeley, the annual turnover rate for custodians is 4.1 percent, compared with 12.5 percent for career staff as a whole.

Health care premiums and parking increases

  • The AFSCME-UC labor agreement allows for increases to the employee-paid premiums of medical insurance.
  • UC has a four-tier premium program that sets employee-paid premiums based upon wage level. Employees earning less than $43,000 per year pay the lowest rates. Employees at higher wage levels pay more.
  • In 2007, UC reports that the average increase to the employee-paid portion of the health premiums for the three major HMO programs (Health Net, Kaiser, Pacificare) will range from $0.03 per hour to $0.15 per hour for those who earn less than $43,000 a year.
  • The AFSCME-UC labor agreement includes a provision on parking rates. The campus's 2006 parking rate increase is within the parameters of the contract.