After a nearly year-long negotiation, the University of California reached a provisional labor agreement with the Teamsters Local 2010 union on March 23. Since about 70 percent of UC Teamster workers struggle with hunger or food insecurity, the union demanded the UC increase wages and bonuses and provide better healthcare for its workers.

Anna Mcgrew
Anna Mcgrew

“I live frugally,” said Transportation and Parking Services event parking coordinator and UCSC chapter coordinator for Teamsters Deborah Bryant in a letter presented to UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal last August. “I searched for a different place to live and discovered the rental market had increased by hundreds of dollars across the board. […] And so I seriously began planning to live out of my car.”

In the new tentative contract, the two parties agreed on a compounded wage increase of 19.4 percent over the next five years, a $1,200 bonus per clerical employee, competitive health insurance and retirement option flexibility, according to a UC news release.

“From the negotiation [the UC administration] was willing to do from a year ago to now,” Bryant said, “I feel pretty happy for what [the Teamsters union] was able to achieve.”

Teamsters will have an open contract, meaning the union will be able to renegotiate the contract before it expires on March 31, 2022. This will depend on whether or not other UC unions negotiate higher salary increases during that time.

“Usually, when you negotiate a contract it’s locked in,” Bryant said, “so this is one [of] the most amazing things.”

Teamsters employees from all UC campuses will vote before April 14 to approve the new contract at their local union chapters. The ballot counting process begins April 19 and Teamsters employees at UCSC started voting on April 4.

If the Teamsters union votes to ratify the new contract, the UC administration must pay the increase and the bonus lump sum no later than 60 days after ratification.

“We are pleased to have reached agreement that maintains competitive wages and benefits for our clerical colleagues,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, UC vice president for systemwide human resources, in a UC news release. “[The UC administration] recognizes the important role they play in keeping our campuses and medical centers running smoothly.”

Food insecurity among UC employees is more than five times higher than California citizens and in the nation as a whole, so this contract has the potential to alleviate financial burden from thousands of workers.

During the negotiations, Teamsters held two official UC-wide strikes to combat unfair wages. In the first strike, on Nov. 16 last year, Teamsters rejected UC’s proposal of a 1.5 percent annual pay increase over the next five years. The union did so because it saw the proposal as inadequate, considering its workers’ wages have decreased 24 percent over the last 18 years.

“A single voice can be silenced,” Bryant said. “A group of voices can’t be ignored.”