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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — or AFSCME 3299 — voted to ratify a contract agreement with the University of California this past Friday, concluding a two-year dispute between AFSCME 3299 patient and service care workers and the UC regarding pension reform.
AFSCME 3299 has been in a tug-of-war over wages and pension benefits with the UC since October 2012, staging numerous strikes and protests demanding the UC cease service and patient care worker pension cuts and alleged instances of illegal intimidation and harassment, as well as improve employee wages and ensure staff safety. As a result of Friday’s compromise, employees’ annual wage increases will be adjusted from more than 10 percent a year over three years to approximately six percent a year over four years, including across-the-board raises and experience-based step increases.
According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Shelly Meron, UCOP is “pleased” that AFSCME has decided to ratify a contract and ultimately come to a compromise.
“I think this agreement brings stability with AFSCME and brings some very favorable ends for both sides,” Meron said. “I think both sides are pleased that we were able to reach the agreement.”
AFSCME 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse agreed and said the union is glad to have finally reached an agreement and to have brought “important issues to light.”
“At the end of day, the UC came to the table in good faith, but it was our persistence and unflinching resolve that really made the difference,” Stenhouse said. “We talk about what we advocate for and fight for, and it’s about [the] lives of [the] people we serve.”
Meron said that while UCOP wishes negotiations “had not been so contentious” and “should not have taken that long” — particularly due to the impact the dispute had on UC medical center operations — the University is glad the two parties have finally come to an agreement.
“We got through it, we bargained through it, we got the pension plan figured out and we’re on a good path going onward,” Meron said.
Although the University and union might not agree on every issue, Stenhouse said both institutions recognize they have to find common solutions to benefit “patients, students and ultimately the taxpayers we serve.”
“Now it’s time to begin a new era [and] a new spirit of cooperation, recognizing that we won’t agree on everything, but the people we serve will remain our highest priority,” Stenhouse said.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 3, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.