UC Workers Strike

Campus

The labor union representing over 25,000 service and patient care technical workers at the University of California launched a three-day strike on May 7.

The AFSCME Local 3299 states that the strike comes after stalled contract negotiations lasting more than a year, and after new research revealed increasingly unequal treatment of low-wage women and people of color working for the University of California.

Among other things, states the report entitled Pioneering Inequality, starting wages for women of color are as much as 21 percent lower than those of white men. Also, it states, UC’s black workforce has declined by 37 percent since 1996, and black workers are now more likely to work for low-wage outsourcing companies under contract at UC for a fraction of the wages earned by direct UC employees performing comparable jobs.

“We’ve bargained in good faith for over a year to address the widening income, racial, and gender disparities that frontline, low-wage workers at UC are living every day,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “Instead of joining us in the effort to arrest these trends, UC has insisted on deepening them—leaving workers no option but to strike.”

The University of California Office of the President issued a statement on Monday denouncing the strike.

“A strike is only hurting the union’s own members who will lose pay for joining this ill-advised three-day walkout, while negatively affecting services to patients and students,” states the release. “A disruptive demonstration will change neither UC’s economic situation nor the university’s position on AFSCME’s unreasonable demands.”

The Office of the President criticized the workers’ demand for a pay raise of nearly 20 percent over three years. It also criticized union leaders for rejecting UC’s counter proposal of 3 percent annually for four years without calling on a member vote.

Workers voted to authorize a strike with 97 in support, states the union.

Strike action took place at USCF Parnassus as well as UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara.

Over 9,000 AFSCME Local 3299 represented UC service workers picketed, with over 15,000 AFSCME Local 3299 represented patient care technical workers authorizing a sympathy strike in solidarity.