California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

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CSU Student Employees Union Advocates for Fair Wages and Hours

Brenda Larin
Protestors outside of Valera Hall at California State University Northridge, September 5th 2023

An anonymous CSU Northridge graduate has spent countless hours in the broadcast studio at California State University, Northridge. There she spent time building her portfolio, but most importantly, working to pay for school and simple daily needs.

The CSU system allows for student workers to work for only 20 hours a week, but students spend countless hours over either due to workload or trying to put enough content together for their future. “I spent a lot of my days in the studio, only to get paid minimum wage, and only to be able to record 20 hours a week.” said the recent CSUN graduate. “I had to take out thousands of dollars of loans, yet I worked for the school and helped the school by creating content.”

The CSU’s simply do not pay the students enough to afford tuition, food, rent, and sustainable living. The anonymous student is alongside over 15,000 students who worked at the 23 different CSU’s, and are a part of  the CSU Employees union.  “[California State University] student workers deserve more hours, a pay raise, and for goodness sakes at least cheaper parking!” expressed the student.

In April of this year CSU student workers filed with the state to form this union. The Union is after unfair wages, hours, and the lack of appreciation to their dedication. This is the largest student worker unionization effort in the country and it is following the University of California student union which succeeded in raising wages.

Liz Ortega, a Democrat for Alameda County, showed her support for the students, “In a nation of vast wealth where too many workers are denied the respect and pay they deserve, there’s only one path to changing the balance of power, and that is uniting with your colleagues and joining a union.”

Campus jobs are critical for students to survive and to provide for themselves. “I pay over a thousand dollars to live in the dorms,” an East Bay student worker said in anger. Students here at CSU East Bay feel as if they have it worse than most. Living in one of the most expensive counties in California, and in the United States, students struggle to pay for anything. “I spend all of my paycheck on my rent, I have to work another job to pay my bills and I still can barely afford to live,” the East Bay student continued.

CSUEB not only has unfair wages, but overlooks their relationship with the students. The school allowed for a dozen student workers from the broadcasting department for athletics to dissolve last year. The Athletic director, Alice Kern stated, “When it comes to broadcasting our games, the approach and focus must be on creating a sustainable, predictable product for the campus community which also includes fans and the family and friends of student-athletes who reside across the country as well as our responsibilities to the CCAA.” The product they ended up producing was significantly worse and they hired other students with no knowledge of broadcasting or experience to run the new athletic broadcasts, taking hours and experience away from the hard working broadcast students.

At CSUEB, students get paid $16 an hour with 20 hours max a week. They have to deal with high parking rates, no sick or holiday pay, tuition, room and board, books, and several other expenses. “At the end of the day I sit in my dorm room and can’t help but think how am I going to survive this next month.” the CSUEB student said.

Meanwhile, the CSU system  agreed on a Multi-Year tuition increase that takes place starting next fall. The CSU system claims to support student success, however, some student workers feel it’s the opposite, “I work hard for the University, but I don’t get the benefits in return.” noted the anonymous California State University Northridge student. “I want the future to be brighter for the student workers after me, and I want them to be able to get hands-on experience without having to stress about where their next meal will come from.”

The Union has made little progress over the past couple weeks. They met with CSU officials at CSU Dominguez Hills to bargain for their livelihoods and for the future of student workers. They plan on continuing to push for the proposals they have in place. They hope for a “more objective process” in the coming bargaining meetings.

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