Two of the University of California’s unions will strike on March 20, the third strike from union workers that UC has seen within the past year.
The unions – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 3299 and the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) – announced the decision to strike late last week.
Next week’s strike was initially prompted by UPTE, which represents around 13,000 employees; AFSCME, which represents over 25,000 workers across the UC system, is striking in solidarity.
“For nearly 2 years, UC has refused to recognize the value of its workers and has instead worked to worsen income inequality,” AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said in a press release sent out by AFSCME on March. 8.
“Thousands of UC workers represented by UPTE-CWA recognize that the University’s efforts to flatten wages, cut benefits, and eliminate middle-class career pathways are hurting families, and our members are proud to strike with them in solidarity.”
The base camp for the strike at UC Santa Barbara will be located at Storke Tower.
At UC Los Angeles, U.S. Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders will be joining the workers in solidarity, the Daily Bruin reported.
UC and the unions have been working to negotiate new contracts since 2017; however, the past three strikes have failed to yield any results. None of the unions’ demands were met following the October strike, with UCOP calling the strikes “wasted efforts.”
In a press release sent out in late February, UPTE said the bargaining with the UC was at a final impasse and that UC’s offer “contains unnecessary and unacceptable cuts.”
UPTE workers are going on strike on March 20 “to show UC executives that we aren’t going to accept their cuts for Research and Technical staff, who make quality education, healthcare, and science possible,” as stated on the UPTE website.
The unions are, among other demands, primarily asking for higher wage increases than the UC is offering.
However, the UC Office of the President called the union’s proposed raises “unreasonable” because they are 16 to 22 percent over the proposed terms of the agreement, stating that the UC has “been fair and substantial, guaranteeing competitive wage increases and excellent benefits.”
“It’s unfortunate that AFSCME and UPTE leaders are choosing to strike for the third time in less than a year. The university feels the way to a deal is at the bargaining table – not on the picket lines – and should not come at the expense of patients, students, the university, and our communities,” UCOP Director of Media Relations Claire Doan said in an email.
“AFSCME leaders distributed a press release announcing their intent to strike at the same time their negotiators were with UC at the table. We feel this is disingenuous. It’s clear they are not truly engaging in the bargaining process, while we remain intent on making reasonable compromises to get a deal.”
The strike will begin around 4 a.m. on March 20 and will stretch until 4 a.m. on March 21, according to the UTPE website.