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UC Service Workers Announce Five Day Strike
Oakland: With negotiations over wages and staffing at a stalemate, the 8300 University of California Service Workers represented by AFSCME 3299—the lowest paid workers at UC--have given ten day notice that they will strike March 3rd-March 7th.
The 13,000 Patient Care Technical Workers represented by AFSCME 3299 have announced that they will strike in sympathy with service workers.
Both units voted 96% in support of a strike during a three day vote last week.
“After more than a year of good faith bargaining, this is not where we’d hoped to be,” said AFSCME 3299 Bargaining Team Member and UC Service Worker Jose Mendez. “Unfortunately, UC’s refusal to support reasonable proposals that protect those who do the most physically demanding labor at UC from injury on the job and poverty at home has left us with no choice. In reality, the cost of a settlement will be far cheaper for UC than the cost of a strike. Over the next ten days, we hope UC will choose basic fairness over another self-inflicted wound, but that is a choice that only UC can make.”
Currently, 99% of UC Service workers are income eligible for some form of public assistance, with some full time workers forced to live in their cars. According to OSHA, workplace injury rates amongst UC Service workers have skyrocketed by over 20% over the last five years. And UC is increasingly replacing these career employees with inexperienced outside contractors who are paid rock-bottom wages with no benefits.
While AFSCME 3299 has conceded to UC on more than 75% of the issues up for negotiation, as well as its top priority of pension reform, UC has singled out its service unit for especially harsh treatment throughout the past year---including unilateral implementation of terms that amounted to pay cuts last September.
UC’s final contract offer still leaves 95% UC Service workers income eligible for some form public assistance, does not address the workload issues that are contributing to rising injury rates, and refuses to accept the same standards on contracting out that are required of CSU, California’s Community Colleges, or other State Agencies.
“By pushing growing numbers of career workers and outside contractors onto public assistance, UC is effectively shifting its labor costs onto the backs of California taxpayers,” Mendez added. “This is what we have come to expect from McDonalds, but it is not what we should expect from a world class public university.”
Within the past two weeks, numerous State Elected Officials, a pair of UC Regents (including California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom), UC Faculty, UC Students and a half dozen unions representing other UC workers have released statements of support for AFSCME represented Service Workers.
UC Service Workers include custodial, groundskeeping, facilities maintenance, dietary and food service staff at the University of California Campuses Medical Centers, and Research Laboratories.