The union that says it represents more than 25,000 employees in the University of California system announced Thursday that 97 percent of its members have voted to authorize a strike.
The union also called Thursday on speakers invited to participate at upcoming UC graduation events to support workers by boycotting university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved. Scheduled commencement speakers include Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s due at UC Berkeley on May 12th, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who’s scheduled to speak at UC San Diego on June 16th.
“With contract negotiations and post-impasse mediation procedures being exhausted after a year of bargaining, AFSCME Local 3299-represented workers at the University of California voted with 97 percent approval to authorize a system-wide strike,” according to a union announcement. “The union has also called on speakers invited to participate at upcoming UC graduation events to support workers by boycotting university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved.”
The strike authorization comes two weeks after protests of unequal treatment for working women of color at the University of California ended with 18 arrests in Los Angeles on the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The union says the protests were a direct response to the release of a study that revealed worsening income, racial, and gender disparities amongst UC’s workforce, including those working directly for UC and those working under contract.
“To make matters worse, UC has awarded raises to its highest paid executives while offering its AFSCME-represented workers UC’s lowest paid career workers flat wages, benefit cuts, and more outsourcing of jobs, the union said. “UC has also been unresponsive to the union’s requests for career advancement programs. For service workers, this week’s vote authorized a strike to protest stalled negotiations while patient care workers authorized a sympathy strike in solidarity.”
AFSCME said it will provide UC a 10-day notice in advance of any work stoppage and a Patient Protection Task Force prepared to respond to requests for emergency patient care assistance from striking workers, “should UC’s strike contingency measures break down.”
Local 3299 of AFSCME — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — says it has been the University of California’s largest employee union for 70 years, representing more than 25,000 employees at UC’s 10 campuses, five medical centers, numerous clinics, research laboratories, and UC Hastings College of Law.
There was no immediate response from the university system to the strike vote.
—City News Service