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Latest News - November 2013

November 11, 2013
Union covering UC workers calls one-day strike
By: John Kershner

The University of California’s largest union has called one-day unfair labor practice strike of UC campuses and medical centers on Nov. 20.

Service and technical workers at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will be joined on the picket lines by members of the California Nurses Association. Both unions are in collective bargaining with UC.

The strike stems from what AFSCME calls “a coordinated campaign of illegal intimidation, coercion and threats” against AFSCME members who participated in a two-day walkout in May.

AFSCME has been in contentious contract negotiations with UC over contracts for more than 21,000 workers for more than a year. UC imposed its “final” wage offer for patient care workers in July and service workers in September.

AFSCME represents about 2,900 patient care workers and 1,200 service workers at UC Davis.

While the union says the contract fight is over unsafe staffing levels at UC hospitals and “exorbitant” pension benefits for university upper management, UC says the union refuses to sign off on pension reforms already agreed by other bargaining units and unions.

The strike vote follows a union complaint to the Public Employment Relations Board over alleged threats and intimidation against workers who participated in the May strike. The board has not found wrongdoing but is required to hold hearings. The union alleges efforts to intimidate workers continue.

“By attempting to illegally silence workers who raise these issues, UC has shown a willful disregard for both the collective bargaining process and the safety of those who entrust UC medical facilities with their lives,” AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said in a news release. The strike vote was approved by 96 percent of voting union members.

Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for human resources and programs, expressed disappointment at the upcoming strike and blasted the union for using patients and students as bargaining chips.

UC and AFSCME returned to the bargaining table for several days last week, Duckett said. While UC offered packages that included “significant movement” in response to union concerns, AFSCME rejected all offers, he said.

“We have done everything we can to end the cycle of conflict and dysfunction,” Duckett said. “Despite our efforts, there has been no reciprocation on AFSCME’s part we are still far from an agreement.”




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