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Union Pushes For Higher Staffing, Wages

In light of disagreements over bargaining rights, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299 is planning to hold a strike authorization vote from Feb. 11 to 13.

Members of AFSCME local 3299 — which is the UC’s largest worker union and represents more than 22,000 service and patient care technical workers — have been in negotiations with university officials over the past year due to pushes for higher staffing and wage increases. According to an AFSCME statement, the union intends to move forward with the vote despite actions by the University of California, such as their potentially deducting unspecified costs from future offers. Polling places for the strike authorization vote will be open at various times and locations around campus between today and Thursday.

AFSCME 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse said service and patient care workers have not been treated fairly compared to other UC workers and noted that workplace injuries for AFSCME 3299 workers have jumped by 20 percent in the last five years.

“Our workers take care of students and facilities in the same, if not harsher, conditions than other UC workers,” Stenhouse said. “For the UC system to give them second-class citizenship when it comes to bargaining is completely unacceptable.”

According to an AFSCME statement released yesterday, the union has made “progress” in their negotiations with UC, but has not reached full agreement on the issues of wages and workplace injury. Stenhouse said the gains made are not seen by the union as adequate.

“I think some progress was made on wages, but there is still ground left to cover there. And on staffing protections, there’s quite a bit of ground left to cover,” Stenhouse said.

However, AFSCME 3299 intends to move forward with the vote. Stenhouse called the threats “unlawful” and said the only way AFSCME will change its mind on the vote is if a better bargaining offer is presented.

“In no way has the UC’s unlawful threats deterred our plans for a strike authorization vote,” Stenhouse said. “The only thing that will change our decision will be a better offer.”

In response to the UC’s threats, AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger sent a letter to UC President Janet Napolitano last Thursday stating the union would like to resolve the issue through bargaining, but justified AFSCME’s grounds for a strike authorization vote.

“We want a settlement with the University and will continue to bargain in good faith,” Lybarger stated. “Our members have made it clear that they will not accept second-class status at UC, and that’s why our service unit is exercising their legal right to vote on authorizing a strike next week.”

Lybarger also added in her letter that strikes are the fault of the UC and can be solved if the UC agrees to give higher staffing and working wages to service and patient care workers.

“UC must recognize that the costs associated with strikes are self-inflicted financial wounds that they have brought on themselves through illegal conduct and insufficient offers on wages and staffing,” Lybarger stated. “Only UC has the power to prevent another strike.”

 

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran with a quote from UCOP spokesperson Shelly Meron. This was removed, however, as it was mistakenly taken from another publication.

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