Thousands of University of California employees and union workers walked out of work to strike against the university system across California Monday.
Dozens held signs while chanting in front of UC Merced's campus. They said they aren't just asking for higher pay but more rights and representation on campus.
Their unified message? Better treatment for service workers like Bertha Perez. She's a senior custodian at UC Merced. She said she's constantly overworked and her team is constantly understaffed. She said she has been asked to clean a 100,000 square foot building with only one other person.
"When you can't clean a classroom right and if students keep getting sick with the flu it's because they're short staffed. We aren't putting students at risk it's the university that's putting the students at risk," she said.
Perez leads the pack of AFSCHME union workers in front of campus Monday following suit of thousands of service workers walking out of UC campuses from San Diego to San Francisco. The union has been in contract negotiations for about a year with the University of California system.
"This type of work is very tiring. People don't understand that a lot of people can't afford to take a day off," said Sophomore Student Brittney Mendez.
In an email, University of California Spokesperson Claire Doan wrote:
"Overall compensation for UC service and patient care staff is already at or above market...The university cannot justify to taxpayers such an excessive raise, no matter how much we appreciate our service workers."
The strike is schedule to run through Wednesday. We are told two other unions will be joining AFSCHME Tuesday and Wednesday.