On April 10 from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., service workers across all 10 UC campuses and medical centers once again took to the streets to stand up against the University of California.
The strike was organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 with the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) in attendance to show solidarity. The unions went on strike after deciding to file two charges against the UC for unfair labor practices.
“I’ve been here at the University of California, Riverside for close to twenty years and I noticed that a lot of the employees where I worked in dining services were getting mistreated. That’s why I decided to get involved, because I wanted to let people who were intimidated and afraid to speak out that they have a voice,” stated Jesse Hernandez, the executive board member and bargaining representative for AFSCME Local 3299
AFSCME 3299 has been negotiating a new contract with the University of California for two years and claims the UC has responded by breaking the law. Their charges allege that the UC failed to prevent or denounce a supervisor’s violent attack on workers while they picketed and discouraged members from joining the strike by giving out perks like gift baskets. They also openly campaigned for members to quit the union by spreading false rumors about the benefits of dropping from the union.
“Many of the people here are struggling to make ends meet but the University of California wants to go ahead and make a lot of cutbacks, which will hurt a lot of families. Most of the people on strike are just looking for job security,” said Isaiah Martinez, an executive board member with AFSCME Local 3299.
As for the future, Hernandez stated that AFSCME Local 3299 is determined to continue fighting until the UC comes up with a fair contract. Hernandez also shared how local government officials like Assemblyman Jose Medina and Rep. Mark Takano sent representatives from their offices to show their support to the strike. Many students attended the strike in solidarity with UC workers. “I come out to support because I understand what they fight for. I’ve worked with so many of the chefs and it’s hard when they put in a lot of effort and help the student workers out so much. It’s difficult to watch them get treated unfairly because they’re good people and hard workers,” said Melanie Gonzalez, a third-year Spanish major and a student worker at Glen Mor market.
The strike occurred on the corner of 900 University Ave., next to the Arts Building. Workers walked around holding signs and rested beneath tents set up. There were several separate eight hour striking shifts, so AFSCME Local 3299 also set up food stations for strikers.