Illustration by Matt Boblet.

If there were no workers on campus, the East Field would be dry, dining halls would serve fewer customers and bathrooms would never be cleaned. If there were no workers on campus at UC Santa Cruz, the nine other UCs, the five medical centers and other UC facilities, these facilities would not function at their current standards — in fact, they wouldn’t function at all.

To say our UC workers go unappreciated is an understatement.

The University of California workers’ union, the American Federation of County, State, and Municipal Utilities Local 3299 (AFSCME), more than deserve the recently ratified contract with the UC, which includes increases in salary and retirement benefits.

The union workers have been fighting for this for over a year, and students and others affiliated with the UC should support them. In an institution where the UC regents can raise administrative salaries by 10 percent with a simple meeting vote, it’s a shame that UC laborers had to fight for a year for a 3 percent raise. It’s clear where the power lies in the UC system, and students and workers should form a united front in working for what they need.

Beneath the glamorous, endowment-winning research and academia lie employees who cannot provide for their families with their UC salary.

The documentary “Hanging by a Thread” features a UCSC food service worker who earns $20,000 less than needed as a single mother of three in Santa Cruz. She works at the Boardwalk to make up for this deficit.

Workers do not tend to students just through their jobs. In past protests, workers have stood beside us, backing us. It’s crucial we, as students, don’t let gaps in age and lifestyle separate us from the UC workforce.

The university should not pride itself on its prestigious endeavors if it does not even show concern or care for all its employees. As students, we cannot forget we are not the only afflicted amid budget cuts and rising fees. People are not dispensable.