Workers & Students Protest Layoff of 30-year Clerical Employee

Workers & Students Protest Layoff of 30-year Clerical Employee

More than 50 UC Berkeley workers and students picketed and rallied in support of Janette Reid, who received a layoff notice after three decades of service at the UC Berkeley Molecular & Cell Biology Department. Reid is the first administrative support worker to receive a layoff notice under Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ recently-announced plan to eliminate 500 jobs at UCB. Supporting the fight back against these cuts were Berkeley students, Teamsters Local 2010 members and fellow union workers from UPTE-CWA and AFSCME 3299.

“The lowest-paid workers and students should not be made to pay the price for the irresponsible decisions of administrators that created the budget shortfall,” said Alicia Flores, Teamsters Local 2010, UC Berkeley Chapter Coordinator.

“UC workers are already working harder for less,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Teamsters Local 2010 Principal Officer. “Students are paying triple tuition for fewer classes and reduced services. This cynical, disastrous plan will only compound the problems. We call on Chancellor Dirks to stop the cuts and withdraw the unjust layoff of Janette.”

“It will not make the workers afraid,” quipped City of Berkeley Councilperson Kriss Worthington, of the layoffs.  “Perhaps the management may be surprised. It will make the workers and the entire community angry, and organize!”

The demonstrators, then marched down the Free Speech Bikeway to deliver their message to Janette Reid’s supervisor. Carrying signs and chanting slogans decrying the proposed layoffs, demanding justice, and suggesting instead the layoff of Chancellor Dirks.

Administrative support workers, who are primarily women and people of color, are among the lowest-paid in the UC system, and have seen their real income drop by 23% over the past two decades. At UC Berkeley, 98% are paid too little to meet basic household expenses according to a recent study.

Concerns of participants were centered around the leadership crisis faced by Berkeley. In hopes of addressing so-called structural budget problem; Chancellor Dirks plans to cut essential student services, libraries, housing offices, academic departments, childcare centers, medical clinics, and the BearWalk public safety program.