Wage negotiations between the University of California and its clerical workers came to a close Thursday after the University ratified a new contract with the Coalition of University Employees (CUE).

The new contract procures an annual 12 percent wage increase until September 2008 for the clerical workers, and prohibits CUE from striking or participating in sympathy strikes for the duration of the agreement. UC Office of the President Labor Relations spokesman Noel Van Nyhuis said a tentative agreement was reached last December and then formally ratified by UC clerical workers yesterday.

CUE member Debbie Ceder said the ratification process involved extensive consultation with union members and several contract presentations.

“We feel it’s important for our members to read the new language,” Ceder said. “Then we go through an all-member vote.”

According to the CUE website, balloting was held in several locations throughout the state. Van Nyhuis said the University is pleased with the outcome.

“Overall, it’s good for the University,” Van Nyhuis said.

CUE held various strikes in Fall 2002 and Spring 2005, affecting routine operations at UCSB. In some cases, certain classes were canceled during the strikes when sympathetic teaching assistants, professors and students joined CUE in their on-campus protests.

Other instances of student-union solidarity include a January 2005 position paper issued by the Associated Students Legislative Council supporting clerical workers’ right to earn a living wage.

The position paper’s author and Rep-at-Large Raymond Meza said A.S. commonly supports union workers.

“A.S., for the past two years, has been a really big supporter of labor on campus,” Meza said.

In addition to the provisions regarding wage increases and strikes, the new agreement also includes compensation for workers retroactively back to Oct. 1, 2005, Van Nyhuis said.

He said clerical workers will continue to receive health benefits according to a salary-based system. All union workers receive the same health coverage, but lower-paid workers pay a lower rate for their benefits.

Van Nyhuis said he is relieved that all contracts with unions in the UC are currently finalized – at least until later this year, when labor negotiations with other unions resume.

“We’re very happy that we were able to finally come to an agreement and provide the wage increases that our clerical employees deserve,” Van Nyhuis said. “At the University, we now have all our contracts settled.”