After months of countless contract conversations and multiple strikes, UC union AFSCME 3299 has finally reached a tentative contract deal with the university system, avoiding another strike that would have taken place this week.
The four-year contract will cover 8,300 workers around the UC. According to a press release from the union, the contract would consist of a 13.5 percent across-the-board wage increase, health care benefits for current employees and retirees and “new safe staffing” protections for employees.
The UC claims it has been extremely flexible with the union, offering a freeze on health care costs, which has allowed an AFSCME worker to continue to pay $11.78 a month for Kaiser or $35.21 for an entire family.
Both sides had discussed potential deals for more than a year, but each fell apart. As a result, the union decided to strike on multiple occasions. The first came in March 2013 and the second in November. Earlier this month, AFSCME 3299 had voted to strike once more — this time for five days at UC campuses and hospitals. After the tentative agreement was made, the union agreed to cancel its planned marathon strike.
According to the UC, the last two strikes cost the university system more than $30 million.
With the planned strike officially over, UC officials are applauding the tentative deal that has been reached. “It is good to have this bargaining wrapped up with a deal on its way to our valued service employees,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, UC’s vice president of human resources. “We worked hard to bridge gaps on the issues. Ultimately both sides chose compromise over conflict.”
AFSCME members shared the same feeling of relief: “Having seen the unflinching resolve of our membership and the many thousands of Californians who support them, it is our hope that the spirit of compromise that UC finally brought to the table … to reach a settlement with UC Service workers will continue in upcoming bargaining sessions with the Patient Care Technical Unit,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in a press release. “If it does, we believe that an end to this unfortunate, protracted dispute may finally be within reach, and a new period of cooperation can begin.”
There is no official word on when AFSCME representatives will vote on the contract, but a statement from the UC believes it will happen “soon.”