Santa Cruz Temps: No Poverty Wages!

City of Santa Cruz temporary workers and supporters urged the City Council on Feb. 14 not to push temps below poverty level.

(Take action. Info below)
Read the letter to the editor by Doris Henry, City of Santa Cruz Chapter President

After failed attempts to attack their social security benefits, the city is now proposing to reduce temporary workers’ wages by almost 6 percent over two years.

“Temporary employees already have low wages and have no benefits,” said Doris Henry, SEIU City of Santa Cruz Chapter President. “The city should seek other budget solutions, such as a hiring freeze for temporary positions, instead of violating the spirit of its own living wage ordinance.”

City temporary workers earn as low as $8.64 per hour and must cobble together two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They work as lifeguards, library aides, and recreation aides – all with no benefits, no sick leave, no vacation, and no retirement plan.

While the city has a $15/hour living wage ordinance for contractors, it pays its temporary employees less and wants to slash their wages to even more.

“I’m living with family because even with two temp jobs, I don’t earn enough money to afford an apartment on my own,” said Ben Mairs, one of the many temp workers who addressed the city council. “If I don’t get a third job, or more hours within the next six months, I will probably have to pack my bags and leave town, because I won’t be able to live here. When I am serving the community, I’m proud to represent the beautiful City of Santa Cruz. But I don’t feel proud about what the City is proposing to do to temporary workers.”

Temporary employees have been bargaining their contract for two years.

The city claims that temp workers must accept drastic wage cuts, or else it would trigger other bargaining units to reopen their contracts for renegotiation. However this so-called “Me Too” clause does not apply to temporary workers because they hold hourly, “at will” positions, with no benefits, and they are not on equal footing with the other bargaining units.

“The reality is that you have never treated extra help workers the same (as other bargaining units) in the good times, and so now there is nothing to slash from them in the bad times,” said SEIU Region 2 Vice President Matt Nathanson. “Our union will not come back to you and try and invoke this reverse ‘Me Too’ clause. You can settle the extra help workers contract without squeezing blood from the stone. But we cannot sit idly by and watch as you try to drive wages further down below your own stated Living Wage targets. Please. Settle this contract. Treat your library aides and community service aides fairly.”

Take Action: Call and/or email your Santa Cruz City Councilmembers

Mayor Don Lane 420-5022

Vice-Mayor Hilary Bryant 420-5026

Katherine Beiers 420-5020

Ryan Coonerty 420-5027

Tony Madrigal 420-5020

Lynn Robinson 420-5020

David Terrazas 420-5020

Tell them: “It’s been two years that these workers have been without a contract and it’s time to settle the contract and institute a hiring freeze of temp workers in order to achieve the necessary savings that will not impact the community and other represented workers in the city. Temporary workers are not the same as permanent workers and it’s the city’s moral obligation to do the right thing and rescind their wage reduction proposal that would put them at or below poverty wages in our city.”

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