Working students struggle to eat


United Auto Workers at a protest. Photo courtesy of United Auto Workers.

Working Wildcats are homeless and hungry.

Some of these Wildcats are academic student employees who work for the California State University system. With their dedication to helping other students academically, they are struggling to balance school, work and finances. A union representing all CSU system academic student employee’s rights.

United Auto Workers are looking to change that by increasing pay, receiving tuition waivers, health benefits and more.

According to the union’s press release, a study conducted by California State University researchers showed that 10 percent of CSU students are homeless and 25 percent don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

Chico State’s numbers are much higher at 40 percent. Susan Reed is an organizer for the union and an instructional student assistant in Chico’s Student Learning Center. When asked, Reed commented further on the matter explaining United Auto Workers is on a mission to fight student debt and poverty. This can be accomplished by increasing the benefits received for people who are working for this institution, she said.

The CSU system continually offers low wages and few benefits to its student employees. Teaching, graduate and instructional student assistants play vital roles in the university system. Yet, they are receiving little pay and minimum benefits while still implementing hours of hard work.

Academic student employees earn around $1,000 monthly. They are expected to pay for books, tuition and other fees, while also living comfortably.

“When the actual institution of the CSU is paying me that little, they are saying that they are okay with my level of poverty,” Reed said. “It is unacceptable for an institution of higher learning to be ignorant to the needs of its people.”

This concern is further discussed in the press release with President of United Auto Workers 4123 Sandip Roy.

“If a student is homeless, and is hungry when both of these basic needs are not met, how can we expect him or her to be good students, let alone employees?” Roy said.

Reed questions student’s academic success across CSU’s without a major change to stop student poverty.

As the 2013 contract is coming to an end, the union is looking for new demand proposals to improve 2016 contract and academic student employee’s overall environment.

Bargaining continues this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday with the California State University Board of Trustees.

Timothy White, the chancellor of the CSU system, he responded to the matter expressing since they are in active negotiations.

“We don’t comment further in the press as we work the details out in the collective bargaining environment,” White said.

The CSU Board of Trustees was contacted but there was no reply.

Kyla Linville can be reached at [email protected] or @kyla_linville on Twitter.