Workers of Berkeley Unite!

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Now here’s a man-bites-dog story: Labor strife at Berkeley.

Janitorial, custodial and cafeteria workers at Berkeley are fighting to maintain their raise from $9 to $17 an hour with benefits at a university that prides itself on its progressive outlook.

Three points need to be made about this:

  1. That may still put them on the low end of the pay scale on campus;
  2. Whether you want to make a value judgement on their work vis a vis that of administrators, you have to at least admit that their labors are tangible as opposed to the more metaphoric ones of administrative personnel there, and elsewhere in academe, for that matter; and
  3. We really do need to see a breakdown of administrators compared to actual workers at Berkeley and elsewhere.

At the Modern Language Association (MLA) annual convention in Philadelphia, Maricruz Manzanarez, who works at Berkeley and helped to organize the union there, said support personnel number about a thousand. She admitted that there is a “lot of administrative bloat.”

On campus, at the International House where students from abroad reside, among food service and custodial workers, Manzanarez said, “There are four supervisors for every 6 employees.”

I noted that that left two of them without their own supervisor.