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SFSU employees rally for raises after audit finds alleged unfair labor practices statewide

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California State University Employees Union rallied on Monday for an increase in wages and better working conditions. They have been negotiating their contracts for nine months. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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Once a student at San Francisco State University, Russell Kilday-Hicks has also worked there as an information technology consultant since the mid-1990s.

“The campus map is my work,” he said.

On Monday, Kilday-Hicks joined some 30 SFSU employees and their student supporters in calling for higher wages and better working conditions at a rally held outside SFSU’s administration building.

The rally was organized by California State University Employees Union (CSUEU), which represents 16,000 classified staff at 23 CSU campuses and has been at odds with CSU since contract negotiations were launched nine months ago.

“[CSU] faculty just settled their contract and CSU has been slow with the staff unions,” said Pat Gantt, CSUEU’s president. While CSU faculty reached a tentative agreement for a 3.5 percent raise this year, Gantt said CSU managers recently received a 2.5 percent pay boost.

CSUEU members — who include custodians, clerical, health care, maintenance and tech staff — were initially offered a pay hike of just 1 percent that did not pertain to its lowest paid tier of workers.

“We rejected that because 1 percent was too low for all staff and nothing for [custodial] and maintenance [workers] was an insult,” Gantt said. Furthermore, he said, CSU is considering nixing a long-standing contract provision that permits employees to request raises and reviews, which Gantt called “an erosion of employees’ rights.”

Previously, CSU employee pay raises matched those received by faculty, said Kilday-Hicks.

“It’s something they haven’t ever done before … they are actually offering other groups more money than they are offering us,” he said.

The union is hoping to “meet or exceed” the contracts offered to CSU faculty, Gantt said. They were most recently offered a 2 percent pay increase, but also rejected that proposal.

“We are still in negotiation,” said Mike Uhlenkamp, a CSU spokesperson, adding that CSU’s offer to the union is “consistent with what we reached with other bargaining units.”

“The employees are the university’s most critical asset,” he said, adding he was not aware of any efforts to prevent staff from requesting raises.

But many of the SFSU employees that protested Monday said they did not feel valued by the institution.

“The market value for what we do is double or triple of what we get paid. And administrators are getting more and more raises along the way,” said Marty, an account security analyst who has worked at SFSU for two decades and declined to give his last name.

Complaints about unfair labor practices sparked an audit of CSU in the spring. The report revealed that over the past decade, management growth has outpaced staff growth in terms of positions and pay.

Students carrying signs that read “Stop Management Bloat” and “Staff Solidarity” joined the CSUEU pickett.

“I hear that the managers added 2 percent to their raises. That’s not social justice, and that’s not what SF State is supposed to stand for,” SFSU sophomore Carina Silva said.

CSUEU members’ contracts were set to expire on June 30, but have been extended by CSU until Oct. 19. Another bargaining session is scheduled this month.

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