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As E Love wrote on Monday, 8,500 low-wage service workers at the University of California are engaged in monumental struggle this week to bring their families out of poverty.

I wanted to share this very moving video about these workers' struggle, and ask you to take action to support them:

More below the fold, as well as an opportunity to take action in support of these courageous workers...

Jaron Quetel, a Storekeeper at UCLA who is supporting his young son alone told Bill Moyers Journal in June:

"Working the best job I've ever had in my whole life, I'm still, I mean, I am a breath away from drowning. I'm $20 away from being on the street. I am one car payment away from being re-poed. I'm barely surviving. I'm leading a substandard lifestyle because I make substandard wages."

It is hard to believe the conditions being faced by these workers at the University of California - one of the most well-respected universities in the country.  For example, 96% of these workers - who clean hospitals and dorm rooms, maintain buildings and grounds, provide lunches to students and faculty and drive shuttle buses - can qualify for at least one of  the following forms of public assistance: food stamps, WIC, and childcare and public housing subsidies.

In the video, Mario Pinto, a senior custodian at the UC-Santa Cruz campus, says:

"We are living with our whole family together, our kids and grandkids, packed in one house, but we still can’t get by because everything is so expensive....It is a very critical situation for us. We can’t live in peace. We always have to be thinking about how are we going to make it next month and put food on the table for the kids."

UC’s poverty wages are as low as $10 per hour.  Because of this, many UC service workers are forced to take second jobs or go on public assistance just to meet their families’ basic needs. Skyrocketing gas and food prices have deepened the crisis for UC families that are already living paycheck to paycheck. Typically, service workers live in low income communities farther away from campus, forcing a longer commute and higher fuel costs that use a disproportionate portion of their budget.

I think that most of you will agree that it is outrageous that workers at one of the most prestigious universities in the country are struggling to survive.  I also think that there are probably many UC alumni, students or just California taxpayers who will want to join me in taking action to support these workers.  

Click here to send an email to UC Chancellors, Medical Center CEOs and UC's new President Mark Yudof (whose new salary, by the way, is $828,000) to demand fairness and dignity for UC service workers!

Originally posted to UnionMaid on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 02:26 PM PDT.

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