Wednesday was National Boss’ Day, and, coincidentally enough, it was also the last day of a three-day walkout during which the university workers picketed the University of California and complained it was bargaining with them in bad faith.
Members of the Coalition of University Employees completed their third day of striking Wednesday with the support of members of University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), United Auto Workers and University Council-American Federation of Teachers, who refused to cross the picket lines and even joined in the protests. C.U.E. members went on strike Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in protest of alleged unfair labor practices committed by the University.
“I really hope [the strike] gets [the UC] to reconsider the unfair labor practices they’ve been committing,” Gabriel Cohn, C.U.E.’s local representative, said. “In the long run it’s changed things in that it’s given C.U.E. members a sense of empowerment. They’re really fired up and are not willing to take the University’s mistreatment anymore. But we’ll see what happens at the next negotiations.”
The University has called the strikes illegal and has filed complaints with Public Employee Relations Board and said that striking will only further delay an agreement on contract issues.
“As the University has said repeatedly, the appropriate place to resolve differences is at the bargaining table, not the street corner or campus plaza,” Gayle Cieszkiewicz, UC labor relations executive director, said in a press release on Oct. 4. “Strikes will only aggravate contract talks and delay settlement.”
UC-AFT members at UCSB, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz and UC Riverside went on strike only Monday and Tuesday, yet many UCSB UC-AFT members refused to cross picket lines Wednesday, Allegra Heidelinde, UC-AFT’s local representative said.
“When there’s a picket line, other people will choose to honor that picket line,” Heidelinde said
UC-AFT held a bargaining session Monday with the University, however the strikes did not have an effect on the session.
“It was business as usual,” Heidelinde said.
UC-AFT and the University failed to come to an agreement and as a result, a state mediator, appointed by Gov. Gray Davis, will be present at the next bargaining sessions, set to take place Oct. 21 and 22.
“My greatest hope is that the UC will start to bargain fairly. But I don’t harbor any illusions that that will actually happen anytime soon,” Heidelinde said.
At one point in Wednesday’s protests, strikers and supporters marched to Student Affairs Administration Services Building and called Leslie Sanchez, employee and labor relations manager, and Cynthia Cronk, human resources director, out of their offices, Bill Quirke, UPTE representative said. The pair came out and addressed questions from the demonstrators, which included concerns that UCSB labor representatives were not included in UC-wide bargaining meetings. Quirke said the two promised to look into the matter.
“It meant a lot to the people that they came down,” Quirke said.
Meanwhile, C.U.E. has been called back to the bargaining table Oct. 31 and must bring along a reply to the UC’s final proposal, which was presented Oct. 10.
“We’ve been negotiating with C.U.E. for a year and a half and it’s time to bring these talks to a close,” Cieszkiewicz said in an Oct. 11 press release. “[[The]] UC continues to make clear to C.U.E. that it simply will not and cannot offer wage increases beyond levels provided by the state funding.”
All four union representatives expressed satisfaction with the turnout of the strike and hope that it will eventually improve relations with the University.
“They’re not going to all of a sudden make changes, but over the long-term,” Quirke said, “I think [the strike] will really send a message to the University.”