UC Workers to Vote on Second Strike of the Year

AFSCME health and maintenance workers will decide whether or not to protest low wages

UCSD health and maintenance workers will hold a vote between Oct. 28 and Oct. 30 to determine whether they will go on strike for the second time this year over low wages and increased pension premiums.

Service workers represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 3299 have been negotiating a new contract with the UC system since it expired in September 2012.

The healthcare workers’ contract expired in January 2013.

AFSCME represents over 22,000 workers across UC campuses and medical centers, including patient care workers, maintenance workers and other technical workers.

The union previously went on strike in May after giving the university a 10-day notice to transfer or accommodate their patients.

The strike lasted two days and cost the UC system an estimated $20 million.

The workers most recently staged a demonstration outside of UCSD’s administrative complex while banging pots and pans, citing concerns over the UC system’s push for pension reform.

The administration’s proposed changes to benefits include an increase in mandatory employee pension contributions from 5 percent to 6.5 percent and administration pension contributions from 10 percent to 12 percent.

AFSCME President Kathryn Lybarger believes that the university’s actions amount to illegal intimidation.

“In attacking the collective bargaining rights of the biggest union in the UC system, UC administrators are betting that they can intimidate others who would challenge their reckless priorities into submission,” Lybarger said. “This is not just un-American, it is a full frontal assault on the students, patients and California taxpayers that this system is supposed to serve. Californians will not be bullied.”

In a press release from the UC Newsroom, Vice President for Systemwide Human Resources Dwaine B. Duckett stated that the UC system is issuing its last proposal to the union after months of disagreement.

“We invited AFSCME back to the bargaining table on Sept. 18 to try to resolve differences. However, despite our best efforts, the two sides were not able to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable approach to pension reform,” Duckett said. “Having completed all stages of the bargaining process, including state-assisted mediation and fact finding, the university is legally entitled to implement its last proposal.”

AFSCME’s last strike was approved by 97 percent of union members who voted.