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8,500 University of California Service Workers Announce Five-Day STRIKE
by Media@afscme3299.org
Wednesday Jul 2nd, 2008 7:46 PM
The strike could begin at anytime, but workers still hope an agreement can be reached.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: William Schlitz 510-701-0810
Lakesha Harrison, President, 310-877-6878

8,500 University of California Service Workers Announce Five-Day STRIKE
Key issue is poverty wages that are dramatically lower than peers


California – 8,500 University of California workers announced today that they will hold a five-day strike at UC’s ten campuses and five medical centers. The strike could begin at anytime, but workers still hope an agreement can be reached. The service workers, who have been negotiating in good faith since August, 2007, voted by 97.5% to authorize the strike in late May. If service workers strike, thousands of medical workers could individually honor the picket lines and not cross it. Negotiations are currently deadlocked.

UC service workers disinfect medical instruments and patient areas, clean the hospitals and campus dorms, provide cafeteria service to patients and students, maintain buildings and grounds, and transport patients, students and staff.

At issue are poverty wages as low as $10 per hour. Many work 2-3 jobs and qualify for public assistance to meet their families’ basic needs. UC wages have fallen dramatically behind other hospitals and California’s community colleges where workers are paid family-sustaining wages that are on average of 25% higher. In addition, when workers have stood up for better lives for their families and better working conditions, the University has retaliated by violating labor laws.

96% of service workers are eligible for at least one of the following forms of public assistance: food stamps, WIC, public housing subsidies and subsidized child care, creating a potential burden for CA taxpayers. Increasing wages would not only help lift workers out of poverty, but could positively impact CA and the low- and moderate-income areas where UC workers live as they contribute more to their local economy.

“We take great pride in working at UC and we do not want to go on strike but UC Executives have left us no other choice. It is shameful we work at such a prestigious university but we cannot support our families. UC could settle this right now by ending poverty wages at UC.” - Catalina Escobedo, Sr. Food Service Worker, UCLA

11,500 patient care workers have also been negotiating with UC since August, 2007. While these workers are not calling for a strike today, some may decide they cannot cross the service workers’ strike picket line to work as a matter of individual conscience.

“If the service workers are forced to strike because UC insists on continuing to pay poverty wages, I cannot in good conscience cross their picket line. UC can and should settle the contract fairly for service workers and lift thousands of families out of poverty.” – Judy McKeever, Respiratory Therapist, UCSF

78% of funding for service workers does not come from State general funds. A large portion of funding comes from the UC hospitals which posted profits of $371 million in 2006.

According to California State-appointed neutral Factfinder Carol Vendrillo, who independently evaluated the viability of a service workers’ labor agreement, said, “U.C. has demonstrated the ability to increase compensation when it fits with certain priorities without any demonstrable link to a state funding source…It is time for UC to take a broader view of its priorities by honoring the important contribution that service workers make to the U.C. community and compensating them with wages that are in line with the competitive market rate.” UC continues to reward its Executives with hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation and lavish benefit packages.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, AFL-CIO represents 20,000 patient care and service workers at UC including licensed vocational nurses, medical techs and assistants, respiratory therapists, custodians, cafeteria workers, and security officers. 2201 Broadway Ave, Suite 315 Oakland, CA 94612,
(510) 844-1160, media@afscme3299.org
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Start somewhereAnother stafferFriday Jul 11th, 2008 5:47 PM
How are the service workers different than proffesional staffProffesional StafferMonday Jul 7th, 2008 1:34 PM
5-Day Strike Coming to the UCsolidMonday Jul 7th, 2008 11:25 AM

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