Photo courtesy AFSCME Local 3299

The University of California’s largest employee union, AFSCME Local 3299, voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for President ahead of California’s March 3 primary.

AFSCME 3299 represents 26,000 service and patient care workers at the University of California, and is comprised mostly of women and people of color who are among the lowest-paid workers in the UC system.

The union said its endorsement follows a consultation with membership in which Sanders received significantly more support than all other candidates combined in a recent survey.

“This election will be a referendum on a corrupt President who has actively worked to rip off workers, attack our families and undermine our collective bargaining rights,” said Michael Avant, executive vice president of the local.  “These are the biggest voting issues for our members. And while any of the major candidates challenging Trump would be a significant improvement, none have walked the talk as reliably and consistently as Senator Bernie Sanders, and that’s why we are enthusiastically endorsing him for President.”

During the union’s three-year pay and outsourcing battle with the university, Sanders honored a speaker’s boycott that led the Democratic National Convention to relocate a planned debate at UCLA and also joined AFSCME 3299 members on a picket line in March 2019.

“The public support of officials who share workers’ values was a major factor in our efforts to secure historic new contracts for our members,” said Monica De Leon, vice president of the local’s patient care unit. “To close America’s widening income gap, fix its broken healthcare system and uplift our most vulnerable communities, that’s the kind of leadership we need in the White House.”

AFSCME 3299 is the third University of California union to endorse Sanders, joining the California Nurses Association and UPTE-CWA Local 9119.