UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Students Senate passed a resolution on Wednesday night that both endorses the upcoming Nov. 13 strike by the University of California’s biggest labor union and directs Associated Students to send out a mass email informing students of the strike.
The Senate’s resolution also asks Chancellor Henry T. Yang to write a letter to several UC institutions — including President Janet Napolitano, the UC Board of Regents and UC Labor Relations — to express support for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299’s (AFSCME 3299) contract demands, which include ending alleged “illegal outsourcing practices,” according to the resolution.
“The UC continues to involve themselves in illegal outsourcing practices, which has affected over 10,000 individuals who work for the UC, one of the largest employers in California,” Off-Campus Senator Daniel Segura-Esquivel, the first author on the resolution, said.
He added that AFSCME has held six strikes in the past two years, and that “this is the fourth one dealing with unfair labor practices.”
“There’s workers on campus that help keep the school running, so I thought it was important to show our support for them,” Segura-Esquivel said in an interview.
He added that while the resolution directs the chancellor to write a letter supporting the strike, Yang is not required to do so.
In response to an email asking if he would write the letter, Yang said that “All of us at UC Santa Barbara recognize how extremely valuable our AFSCME colleagues are to our campus community.”
“Systemwide negotiations with AFSCME 3299 are being handled by UC Office of the President, and this important issue is being discussed with our UC chancellors, our UC Regents, and our campus and UCOP colleagues,” he added.
The resolution was seconded by Off-Campus Senator Racquel Almario, and was student-sponsored by Ana Fabian and Dylan Kupsh, affiliates with the United Student Labor Action Coalition Local 805.
“Students have a responsibility to be in solidarity because our struggles as students are intertwined with the struggles of workers,” Fabian said at the Senate meeting.
The resolution also condemns the possibility of police presence and “any form of university harassment” during the strike.
AFSCME 3299, which represents more than 24,000 healthcare and service employees, filed six complaints against the UC in early November, alleging that the university is cutting costs by hiring outside contractors to do jobs typically conducted by union employees.
“These [non-union] workers get paid significantly less. They don’t have any health care, they don’t have any protections so they can be fired any one day,” said, Gabriella Silva, an intern with AFSCME 3299.
Union-contracted workers in California make on average “12.9% more than non-union workers with similar demographic characteristics and working in similar industries,” according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, which researches labor and employment.
The UC, however, believes the strikes are part of a strategy to increase AFSCME’s leverage in contract negotiations, according to UC spokesperson Andrew Gordon.
“This strike notice does nothing to give employees the long-overdue agreement and raises they deserve,” Gordon said in an email.
“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. We will do everything we can to limit the strike’s negative impact,” he added.
In the complaints filed earlier this month, AFSCME additionally alleged that the UC secretly amended union contracts after contact with non-union vendors.
UCSB has comparatively fewer AFSCME workers than larger campuses with medical centers such as UC Los Angeles, according to Silva, who added that the smaller numbers of union workers will contribute to a relatively smaller protest next week.
“There’s been less and less workers at each strike because not everyone can afford to take that whole day of wages off,” Silva said. “We anticipate more students than workers.”
The UC has increased spending on outsourcing on campuses by 23% since 2016, and 84% with medical centers, according to documents filed with the California legislature.
The number of AFSCME-represented service workers has also grown 16.8%, in the past five years, while the number of patient care workers has jumped 27.9%, Gordon said.
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada said that the university has plans in place to “mitigate any impacts” from the upcoming strike, but declined to provide further details.