State chops student assistant jobs

This academic year, UC, CSU and community college students are already facing more fee increases in California if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax package doesn’t pass.

Now, hundreds of them are out of a job.

A deal to cut student assistant jobs was worked out between the state and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents 95,000 state workers.

As part of the agreement, 1,600 student positions will be cut, and state workers must take 12 furlough days before the end of next June.

Student workers at universities usually act as assistants in offices throughout the campus and earn an average of $8,500 annually. They are not covered by union contracts and do not receive benefits.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut around 2,000 of these positions in 2008.

Students are paid about 9 cents for each $1,000 spent on employee wages, the Sac Bee reported.

Students like Dmetri Black, a student at Laney College in Oakland who worked for the Department of Industrial Relations and was hoping for a full-time job after graduation, were angered by the cut:

“But I have to tell you that after this, I’m not looking forward to paying union dues to SEIU.”

SEIU 1000 has stated that it believes that the state should not ask workers to take pay cuts while employing students in positions that can easily be filled by a union member.

If Brown’s tax package passes in November, tuition may freeze and students in the CSU system would receive a refund of the extra 7.5 percent of tuition they paid this semester.

Not all union backers see this move as favorable.

David Miller, president of the state scientists’ union, wrote a letter of protest to Brown’s human resources director Julie Chapman, stating that student employees take care of basic but important tasks that allow technical workers to do other, more skilled jobs:

“For what we spend on political appointees, we could hire armies of students.”