News in Brief

Death of Worker Brings AFSCME Complaint, Response

In response to the death of a worker at UC Berkley the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 3299 branch (AFSCME 3299), the union representing campus service workers filed a formal complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that the University placed worker Damon Frick in unnecessary harm and in fact violated its own safety protocols.
Damon Frick, a 45 year old custodian who worked at Berkeley since 2011 reportedly fell 20 feet from a lift at UC Berkeley’s International House on April 7 and died after being hospitalized for several days according to a news release by AFSCME.
“We have been sounding alarms for years about the hazardous working conditions and skyrocketing injury rates faced by UC Service Workers — those who do the most physically demanding labor at UC,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.
The lift that Frisk reportedly fell off was over 30 years old and according to the OSHA complaint was not properly maintained. According to AFSCME, Frick was not trained in how to use the lift and operating the lift was not in his listed job requirements. Lybarger stated the incident, “In addition to AFSCME, Frisk’s family is filing a wrongful death claim against the UC system according to the San Jose Mercury News. Frick left behind two children after his death. At the present moment a fundraiser to raise money for Frick’s family has raised $5,000, but that will not be enough for Lybarger.
“No words or actions will ever be able to fill the void that Damon’s loss has left in the hearts of his family, colleagues, and students,” she said. “But we are determined to honor his memory by ensuring that nothing like this ever happens again at UC.”

UC’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Turns 100

The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) sponsored a statewide crowd-sourcing science project called “Be a Scientist” last Thursday, May 8, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the nation’s Cooperative Extension system.
The Cooperative Extension is a nationwide system of community-based education programs, first established as part of each state’s land grant university. The UC is California’s land grant university. The nationwide system was signed into existence when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Lever Act.
“For 100 years UC Cooperative Extension has been turning science into solutions to build healthy communities,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement released last week.
More than 25,000 people participated in the crowd-sourcing event that featured three main projects focused on pollinators, water and food. Each of these subjects asked participants to record their observations on conserving water, growing food or the number of pollinating bees, birds and butterflies in their local community. The data submitted to the ANR website became pins on an interactive crowd-sourced map. More than 3,441 pins were created on the map.
Data gathered during “Be a Scientist” will be used to help ANR tailor future community outreach, education and research efforts. UCCE researchers and educators work together with local community members to help solve economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development and nutrition issues with programs such as 4-H Youth Development, Master Gardeners, Expanded Food and Nutrition Program and the Integrated Pest Management Program.
Napolitano said, “From creating new varieties of fruits and vegetables, fighting off invasive pest attacks and helping school kids learn about healthy eating, UC’s work benefits every Californian.”