The patient care workers’ new contract with the UC ends over 12 months of walkouts and strikes.
University of California’s largest union representing more than 22,000 service and patient care technical workers — American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 — ratified a four-year contract with the University of California after recent UC health workers’ strike in early March and two years of bargaining.
Over 99 percent of patient care technical workers voted on Monday, March 31 to ratify the new agreement for a compromise that increases workers’ benefits.
With this new agreement in place, the UC system was able to avoid another strike which would have cost the UC $10 million a day.
The contract allowed a 4.5-percent wage increase for all PCT workers by May 2014 and a 4-percent increase every year for the next three years
In addition, the new agreement removed the “emergency” call-offs — which gave the UC system layoff powers in case of internal emergencies — that was previously imposed on patient care workers. According to the UC Office of the President Communications, the AFSCME believed that the emergency call-offs “enabled hospital administrators to make unlimited layoffs.”
The UC system also agreed to grant protection for PCT workers and minimize outsourcing. If the UC system fails to offer jobs to PCT workers after outsourcing jobs, AFSCME will gain grievance and arbitration rights that gives them more leverage in future labor negotiations with UC leaders.
In terms of affordable healthcare, the UC system froze PCT workers’ healthcare fees at 2014 rates for the next four years from Kaiser and Health Net Blue and Gold Healthcare providers.
PCT workers also gained more seniority protection from this contract in terms of layoffs, transfers, promotions and scheduling. Shift assignments, work hours and vacations are determined based on seniority and given priority to employees with more years working in the UC system.
Furthermore, the UC system has agreed to increase pension contribution by 2.5 percent by July 2014, improving pension protection for workers.
AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger worked closely with the UC system to negotiate a compromise for PCT workers and thinks the agreement is significant.
“This proposed agreement reflects compromise on both sides,” Lybarger said. The contract also “honors the important contributions that patient care technical workers make to the UC Health system every day.”
A recent Lybarger press release indicated that AFSCME 3299 expects to continue working with the UC administrators to build on recent agreements and find more ways to benefit patients, students and the UC community.