I am a graduate student TA at UC Davis, and today our union went on strike in solidarity with the AFSCME union. On the picket line I met through casual conversation a man who works the night custodial shift. He said he is grateful he has a shift that allows him to take his high school son to school in the morning, and that allows him to also help his wife clean houses during the day. While I thought that I had problems as a graduate student trying to balance my TA duties with my program and feeling financially stretched in many ways, I was struck by what this man and those who stand with him face. To put it honestly, I am appalled that anyone would ever consider a 1.5% pay cut on this man's salary. The campus obviously would be a public health risk without custodial service, so no one can argue that his services are not necessary. And yet he can somehow take the brunt of whatever cuts have to be made in this time of economic strain.
I would like to challenge the administration to consider a voluntary 1.5% pay cut of their own. That 1.5% would go much further than this man's. It would send a powerful signal to the student bodies across the UC, all of whom go to a public school and do not necessarily deserve to be subjugated to the same rules of operation of profit-driven institutions.
While we are grateful for our education, we are not alone when we also express that we are profoundly disappointed in many administrative decisions, especially those that affect people like this.