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University Of California Labor Union Survey Shows Workers Struggle To Eat

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- Low pay keeps thousands of University of California support workers struggling to fend off hunger and fighting to make ends meet, according to a new survey released Monday.

The survey says that 70 percent of respondents report struggling to put food on the table and 45 percent say they have gone hungry because of a lack of resources.

The Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College compiled the survey, "Food Insecurity Among University of California Employees," at the behest of Teamsters Local 2010.

The union represents roughly 14,000 clerical and administrative support workers at the UC system's 10 campuses and five medical centers. The union and the university system have been in negotiations since April over a contract that is set to expire in November.

"Workers at the University of California should be able to do their job without worrying about where their next meal is coming from," Jason Rabinowitz, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010, said in a statement.

"It's clear that the UC has failed its workers, its students and all of California. It's time for the UC to pay workers enough to eat."

A university spokeswoman said that while they can't "comment on the specifics of a union-commissioned report we have not examined," Teamsters workers are currently making $43,600 on average and enjoy a "heavily subsidized" health care package, overtime pay and a pension program.

Additionally, the university is offering a 15 percent pay increase over five years, said UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein.

In June, the union asked for a 25 percent increase over five years, according to the Teamsters Local 2010 website.

"The University believes our total package of wages and benefits is competitive for the many different jobs within our workforce," Klein said in a statement. "We respect the collective bargaining process and believe matters such as wages and benefits should be negotiated at the bargaining table."

The survey of 2,890 union employees paints a stark picture of how often the respondents struggle with hunger. Eighty percent of those who identified as being "food insecure" said that during the previous year they had to choose between buying food and paying rent or utilities, with one in four saying they faced that decision every month.

Sixty percent said they had to choose between food and paying for medicine or medical care, according to the survey.

"We hope (UC leaders) acknowledge it, the numbers and facts, and work with us to lift the real wages of our members," said union spokesman Christian Castro.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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