UC Workers Call for 3 Day Strike, May 7th-9th


(OAKLAND, CA) – Today, AFSCME Local 3299, which represents over 25,000 Service and Patient Care Technical workers at the University of California issued a ten-day notice of their intention to engage in a three-day strike from May 7th to 9th. The announcement comes after over a year of stalled contract negotiations and new research that revealed increasingly unequal treatment of low-wage women and people of color working at the University.

“We’ve bargained in good faith for over a year to address the widening income, racial, and gender disparities that frontline, low-wage workers at UC are living every day,” says AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “Instead of joining us in the effort to arrest these trends, UC has insisted on deepening them—leaving workers no option but to strike.”

Last week, UC administrators announced that they would unilaterally impose contract terms on AFSCME represented service workers across the UC system that would delay the retirement age by another five years, leave employee wages trailing below the cost of living, continue the outsourcing of jobs, and permit UC to raise healthcare premiums.

The workers voted to authorize a strike with 97 percent support.

“Administrators are already showing us that we can expect more unequal treatment if we don’t stand up, fight back, and hold UC accountable to its hollow claims of ‘pioneering a better future’,” adds Lybarger. “It’s UC that is subverting the legally required collective bargaining process by imposing unfair terms on frontline workers. And only UC has the power to stop this strike.”

Workers took to the streets in protest of the growing income, racial, and gender inequality on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination—just 3 days after the release of the new research report on rising inequality at UC. Among other things, the report, entitled Pioneering Inequality, found that women of color’s starting wages are as much as 21 percent lower than the starting pay for white men, UC’s Black workforce has declined by 37 percent since 1996, and Black workers are now more likely to work for low-wage outsourcing companies under contract at UC—for a fraction of the wages earned by direct UC employees performing comparable jobs.

Last year, a state audit found that UC was actively displacing its lowest wage career workers in favor of low-wage outsourcing companies and internal UC audits revealed that the university was not even enforcing its own minimum wage policy with contractors.

The May 7th-9th strike involves over 9,000 AFSCME Local 3299 represented UC Service workers, with over 15,000 AFSCME Local 3299 represented Patient Care Technical workers authorizing a sympathy strike in solidarity.

AFSCME Local 3299 members will be organizing a Patient Protection Task Force that is prepared to respond to requests for emergency patient care assistance from striking workers, should UC’s strike contingency measures break down. AFSCME is also calling on public officials to boycott university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved.

UC Service workers include Security Guards, Groundskeepers, Custodians, and more. UC Patient Care Technical workers include Respiratory therapists, Nursing Aides, MRI Technologists, Surgical Technicians, and more.