After failing to reach a contract deal with the University of California, UC union AFSCME 3299 announced last week that it will go on strike once again. The union announced on Feb. 20 that its 8,300 service workers will hold a five-day strike from March 3 through March 7 after 96 percent of its members voted in favor of a planned protest. Standing in solidarity with the service workers, UC patient care technical workers — another unit of the same union — also decided to hold a sympathy strike.
This marks the third time in the course of a year that the union has decided to halt work production to protest the UC’s proposed contract deals. Patient care technical workers held their first strike in May 2013 after failed contract negotiations, and that event was followed up by a second strike in November. March’s five-day protest will be the union’s longest strike to date.
AFSCME 3299 bargaining team member and UC service worker Jose Mendez said, “After more than a year of good faith bargaining, this is not where we’d hoped to be,” about the failed negotiations.
Dwaine Duckett, vice president of UC Human Resources released a statement about the union’s decision.
“We are deeply disappointed that even as contract negotiations continue, AFSCME leadership has chosen to take this path, which hurts our students, patients and the UC community in a number of ways,” Duckett said in a press release. “This is patently unfair to the people we serve.”
According to the UC, the strike will be unproductive to the advancement of contract negotiations. The UC has offered a contract deal that would raise wages of patient care workers by 20 percent and service workers by 16 percent. Additionally, the UC has offered to freeze employee health care costs — a benefit which the UC claims has not offered to any other union.