Workers Stage Strike Against New Terms

Unionized maintenance workers demonstrated Tuesday against a UC plan that will cut benefits

UCSD service workers are protesting low wages and reduced pensions for the second time as the University of California issues its final proposal regarding workers’ contracts.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, maintenance workers from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 3299 marched around the UCSD administration complex banging pots and pans in a demonstration against the UC administration’s push for pension reform.

An AFSCME worker, who identified herself as Carla, said through a translator that the protest was due to a lack of good-faith bargaining on the university’s part.

“What we’re asking for is nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “It’s well within what the university is capable of. We can’t afford increases to our healthcare and pension contributions.”

AFSCME 3299 has protested twice this year for similar reasons.

University of California’s Vice President for Systemwide Human Resources and Programs Dwaine Duckett issued a statement regarding the ongoing negotiations.

“On Sept. 3, the state’s neutral fact finder sided with [the University of California] on the key issue of pension reform and recommended the university’s approach,” the statement read. “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.”

The university system’s proposed changes include raising employee pension contributions from 5 percent to 6.5 percent, while the UC system’s contribution increases from 10 to 12 percent. Employees hired after July 1, 2013, will also receive a modified benefits plan.

AFSCME is currently supporting legislation (SCA 15) that would require the UC system to adhere to a pension reform law that currently applies to all other state employees.

Among the provisions in the Public Employees Pension Reform Act is a pension cap that would be imposed on the UC executives who retire with six figure salaries. For example, UC President Mark Yudof, whose last day is Monday, Sept. 30, is guaranteed at least $230,000 in pension and benefits after five years in his position.