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Student assistants to be let go amid California budget cuts
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SACRAMENTO . (AP) — Hundreds of California student assistants will lose their jobs as the school year begins as part of a cost-cutting deal between the state and its largest public employees union.

With California facing a deep budget deficit, 1,600 state student assistant positions will be eliminated in September, The Sacramento Bee ( reported Monday.

The move is part of a deal between Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents 95,000 state workers. State workers will also take 12 furlough days before the end of June as part of the deal.

Part-time student workers perform a variety of jobs, including answering phones, and earn an average of $8,500 a year. They are not covered by union agreements and do not receive benefits.

During the 2008 budget crisis, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, cut about 2,000 student positions.

The state paid $13.4 million in student worker salaries last year. They are paid about 9 cents of every $1,000 spent on employee wages, according to the Bee.

Some students feel betrayed by the deal.

Dmetri Black, a student at Laney College in Oakland, has been working at the Department of Industrial Relations and intends to apply for a fulltime job when she graduates.

"But I have to tell you that after this, I'm not looking forward to paying union dues to SEIU," she told the Bee.

Dave Gilb, former head of the state's personnel department, told the Bee that student workers bring remarkable energy and creativity to their jobs. He called the decision to cut them loose unfortunate.

SEIU Local 1000 leaders have said in the past that the state should not ask workers to take pay cuts while employing students for jobs that could be filled by union members.

Tuition and fees at California's public college systems have tripled over the past decade as the job market has contracted.

Brown and Democratic leaders plan to freeze tuition rates at California's public universities if voters approve a tax hike in November.

Some state workers are also unhappy about the bargain.

David Miller, president of the state scientists' union, wrote letter of protest to Brown's human resources director Julie Chapman. He said that public scientific and engineering programs rely on students to handle routine tasks, freeing up technical staff to do other jobs.

"For what we spend on political appointees, we could hire armies of students," Miller told the Bee.