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UC Santa Barbara workers join statewide strike

Jáshua Bane
Workers and students join the picket line at UCSB on Monday afternoon.

At UC Santa Barbara and University of California campuses across the state, workers are striking through Wednesday, calling for better wages and benefits. About 54,000 nurses, custodians, technical and other service workers plan to join picket lines at all ten UC schools this week. UC's biggest union, AFSCME Local 3299, organized the strike. 

On Friday, a group of 25 state lawmakers sent a letter to UC president Janet Napolitano condemning the system's pay cuts for the "lowest-paid frontline workers." That's while, according to a UC employee union, salaries for top administrators grew 64 percent since 2005. 

Juan Donato is a groundskeeper at UCSB. He told KCBX News this afternoon he was humbled by the community's reaction to the strike.

“It’s overwhelming, the feeling is overwhelming support by the students, and what is coming up for me is we are a community, we are in this together, that’s the feeling I’m getting,” Donato said.

The striking workers say they are trying to change systemic wage inequality throughout the UC system. An April studypublished by UC's largest union documents that starting salaries for Latino workers are 21 percent less than their white counterparts. African-American workers earn 20 percent less starting out. And on all campuses, including UC Santa Barbara, average starting salaries for women is $2 less an hour than men.

“So those are the kind of inequalities that we would like to be addressed,” Donato said.

Donato and his colleagues plan to strike 12 hours a day on Tuesday and Wednesday.