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Cal State LA facilities workers protest unfair policies and unsafe conditions.

Teamsters+protesting+on+a+campus+on+understaffing+and+to+promote+safety+first.
Teamsters protesting on a campus on understaffing and to promote safety first.

Teamsters protesting on a campus on understaffing and to promote safety first.

Teamsters Local2010

Teamsters Local2010

Teamsters protesting on a campus on understaffing and to promote safety first.

Ricky Rodas, Investigative Reporter

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On Jan. 16, a group of Cal State LA Facilities workers gathered in front of the student bookstore to protest bad policy and inaction by the California State University (CSU) administration regarding facilities maintenance.

The Teamsters Union 2110 organized hundreds of skilled trade workers across the CSU system to demonstrate at their respective campuses.

Workers marched down the main walkway during their 30-minute lunch break and passed out Teamsters local 2110 flyers with information about the roughly $2 billion in deferred maintenance.

According to the flyers, “In a recent survey, over 63% of CSU skilled trade workers, whose job it is to maintain and repair campus instructional facilities, reported being aware of unsafe conditions or accidents due to deferred maintenance and understaffing.”

According to the flyer CSU does not properly classify and pay its skilled trades workers, which it says results in major understaffing.

One of the participants, SETC president Frank Garcia, spoke about the CSU administration’s shortcomings in regards to facilities maintenance:

“They don’t put money back into the buildings the way they are supposed to, and what happens is that over time we get a deterioration of stuff like that campus buildings and maintenance items.

Richard Hamilton, a Cal State LA carpenter, also participated. Hamilton said that the purpose of their protest was to peacefully notify the campus body about the lack of resources provided to workers:

“We’re out here to do a peaceful notification, to let people know what’s going on out here. The deferred maintenance for the whole CSU system is $2 billion and it keeps growing, and we just want to change that. We want more staff, we want to get paid fairly.”

For those unaware of the term, deferred maintenance is the practice of postponing maintenance activities in order to save costs.

When asked about the factors that have lead to this deferred maintenance, Hamilton cited a lack of tradesmen to work on maintaining the campus:

“We’re seeing an increase in students, we’re seeing an increase in infrastructure, but we’re not having an increase in tradesmen to support the infrastructure and the amount of students that we have.”

He also spoke on how students’ tuition is increasing while the overall quality of the campus they occupy remains lackluster:

“We’re really just out here for the students, they are our number one concern, and we want to make sure that all of the students are taken care of… if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have jobs,” Hamilton said. “It’s not fair to them to increase their tuition and not put back into the system.”

The CSU is currently considering a proposed system-wide tuition increase for the 2018-2019 school year. According the CSU webpage, tuition would increase by $228 for undergraduates, and $432 for graduate students.

Robert Lopez, Cal State LA spokesman, issued a statement to the University Time addressing the workers’ protest:

“Cal State LA is committed to the overall safety of students, faculty and staff,” Lopez said. “Data compiled by the University’s Environmental Health and Safety Office show that both occupational injuries and time lost due to injuries are at their lowest levels in years. Injuries to students and visitors on campus are also at low levels.”

The Lost Time Incident Rate chart (LTIR) tracks the amount of lost time work-related injuries that occurred at Cal State LA every year since 2006. A total of 0.16 injuries occurred in 2017, a significant drop from the 0.96 injuries that occurred in 2006.

There is also a Total Case Incident Rate chart (TCIR), which tracks the average amount of work-related injuries in a year. A total of 0.99 injuries occurred in 2017, compared to the 1.20 injuries that occurred in 2006.

Regarding future demonstrations, Garcia said that the Teamsters Local 2110 are planning to organize a group of skilled trade workers outside of the CSU Chancellor’s Office on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Demonstrators will be protesting for fair wages and funds for maintenance while the CSU board of trustees meeting takes place inside the Chancellor’s office.

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