Over 96 percent of the union’s members support striking for the third time in the last twelve months
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299 union and UC Patient Care Technical workers have once again authorized a UC-wide strike against allegedly unfair wage contracts on Feb. 14. The authorization follows a three-day strike vote Feb. 11 through Feb. 13 by union bargaining members.
The announcement — garnering 96 percent in support from the service workers units — marks the third AFSCME union strike to occur in the last 12 months.
Workers previously protested in September and May at the UC Office of the President in Oakland after nearly unanimous votes, citing unfair practices in safe staffing standards and demanding wage increases due to an expired contract yet to be renewed by the UC system.
The 8,300 Services Workers and 13,000 Patient Care Technical Workers under the AFSCME 3299 banner make up the lowest paid workers — including nurses, sanitation workers and EMT specialists — in the UC system and have been negotiating higher wage settlements with the UC system for over a year.
“Our members seek a fair settlement, and this vote makes it clear that UC’s final offer fails to meet that standard,” UC Service worker and AFSCME 3299 Bargaining Team Member Jose Mendez said in a union release on Feb. 14. “The ball is now in UC’s court. We hope they will change course and finally choose to work towards an agreement that addresses our core issues and honors our contributions to the university. If not, our members are prepared to strike.”
According to the AFSCME website and union spokesperson Todd Stenhouse, members have also demonstrated concern at unfairness between negotiations and offers provided to other UC unions employees.
“The question is going to be, at what point are they going to come to the table with fair offers for our priorities?” Stenhouse said.
Many state and union leaders also expressed support for a contract resolution between the UC system and AFSCME 3299 workers, including California Lieutenant Governor and UC Regent Gavin Newsom.
“After years of giving huge salaries to executives, it is time for the [University of California] to show its lowest paid workers that they are a valued part of the UC family,” Newsom said in a recent tweet.
However, representatives of the UC system — according to spokesperson Dianne Klein — continue to disagree with the union’s call to protest, mentioning financial strain caused by the previous strikes and the possibility of withdrawing offers discussed during previous negotiations.
“We had hoped that they would call off the authorization vote, but they went through with it,” Klein said in an interview with the Daily Californian. “A strike benefits nobody.”
AFSCME bargaining members have not yet set a date for the strike, with a meeting between the union and the UC system pending for a date in the near future as well.