For the second time in less than a month and the fourth time in a year, thousands of University of California workers will stage a one-day strike Wednesday at campuses and medical facilities across the state, alleging unfair labor practices.
The patient-care and service workers represented by Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union plan to picket beginning at 9 a.m. on the UC San Diego campus and the university’s two medical centers.
The walkout comes amid contract talks between the union and university system that have been continuing for nearly two years. It follows a March 20 one-day walkout staged by a different UC union — University Professional & Technical Employees — but which was honored in solidarity by AFSCME-represented employees.
The unions staged two other strikes last year.
AFSCME officials said Wednesday’s walkout was called in response to what they call the UC’s “intimidation tactics” and “interference with workers’ rights.” Union officials said they have filed an unfair labor practice claim with the state Public Employment Relations Board alleging workplace retaliation against workers and other violations.
“Through its actions, the University of California has created a hostile work environment that undermines workers’ ability to exercise their rights and voice concerns in the workplace,” AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said in a statement. “We will not allow UC to silence the voices of its most vulnerable workers — who (are) overwhelmingly people of color — and we will take all necessary actions to hold UC accountable for any illegal behavior.”
UC spokeswoman Claire Doan said the unfair labor practice sallegation “is nothing more than a blatant attempt to justify yet another strike.”
“For the fourth time in under a year, union leaders will try — and again fail — to extract bargaining concessions from the university through economic pressure, at the continued expense of patients, students and communities statewide,” Doan said.
“AFSCME leaders claim they want fairness while asking for nearly triple the raises UC has given to other employees,” Doan said. “Their unreasonable demand of an 8 percent annual wage increase would cost this taxpayer-funded university hundreds of millions over the life of the contracts, beyond the significant amount we have already offered in raises.”
According to the UC, the union rejected the university’s latest offer without ever presenting it to union members. University officials sent an outline of the proposal to union members last week, saying it includes annual 3 percent raises over the next four years, a $2,000 lump-sum payment upon ratification of the contract, health benefits on par with those given to other employees and unchanged pension benefits to current employees.
— City News Service