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PERB Charged UC with Illegally Intimidating and Coercing Workers

Oakland: AFSCME 3299, the University of California’s largest union, has called for an Unfair Labor Practice Strike Vote amongst its 22,000 members on October 28-30.

The vote comes in the wake of the State Public Employment Relations Board’s (PERB) recent decision to charge UC with illegal intimidation and coercion of Patient Care and Service workers during the first-ever Strike of UC Hospitals back in May. UC Administrators have since chosen to bypass the collective bargaining process altogether, and unilaterally imposed contract terms on Local 3299’s 22,000 members.

“For more than a year, our members have engaged in good faith bargaining and offered meaningful compromises designed to build ladders to the middle class and make UC facilities safer for students and patients,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “UC’s response has been to illegally intimidate and bully the front line workers who serve the public.”

After threatening employees with disciplinary action for participating in a court approved UC Hospital Strike back in May, UC claimed it had done nothing wrong. In issuing a formal charge against UC last month, PERB disagreed.

Local 3299’s leadership has called on membership to protest UC’s illegal intimidation and coercion by voting for a ULP strike. “UC hasn’t backed away from its bullying even after the State Labor Board charged UC with being a serial law-breaker,” Lybarger explained. “A ULP strike is the only way to even the playing field and hold UC accountable for attacking the rights of its devoted career workers.”

Read PERB’s complaint Here:

Following alleged acts of illegal coercion connected with AFSCME 3299’s May Strike, UC Administrators moved quickly to impose contract terms on more than 13,000 Patient Care Technical Workers in July, and more than 8,300 Service workers in September. The forced terms included no movement on AFSCME’s core demand of safe staffing—and up to $130,000 per employee in pension and retiree health takeaways. In the process, UC Service workers—the lowest paid employees in the UC system—also became the only group of UC workers singled out for a wage freeze. Currently, 99% of UC Service workers are income eligible for some form of Public Assistance.

The decision to force terms on Service workers, in particular, has already earned a sharp rebuke from members of the State Legislature:

The fight over the rights of UC workers comes as new UC President Janet Napolitano takes office and the system deals with growing criticism for its financial priorities. For example, while UC student tuition has skyrocketed and UC hospitals have been hit with millions of dollars in State Department of Public Health fines and court ordered whistleblower settlements, UC has made deep cuts to student services and patient care in order to support staggering administrative growth. The number of UC Executives making over $250,000 per year has more than doubled since 2007, and according to the Associated Press, the number of executives taking home annual pension payouts of as much as $300,000 has jumped 30% since 2010.

“In attacking the collective bargaining rights of the biggest union in the UC system, UC Administrators are betting that they can intimidate others who would challenge their reckless priorities into submission,” Lybarger added. “This is not just un-American, it is a full frontal assault on the students, patients and California taxpayers that this system is supposed to serve. Californians will not be bullied.”