CONTACT: JOHN DE LOS ANGELES | [email protected] | 650-438-1961

(OAKLAND, CA) – With contract negotiations and post-impasse mediation procedures being exhausted after a year of bargaining, AFSCME Local 3299 represented workers at the University of California voted with 97 percent approval to authorize a system-wide strike. The union has also called on speakers invited to participate at upcoming UC graduation events to support workers by boycotting university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved.

“We’ve negotiated in good faith with UC for over a year now,” says Oscar Rubio, a Food Service Worker at UCLA and Vice President of AFSCME Local 3299’s Service Unit. “Instead of working with us to address issues of widening inequality and outsourcing, UC’s administrators are pushing proposals that will only make things worse.”

The strike authorization comes just two weeks after massive protests of unequal treatment for working women of color at the University of California ended with 18 arrests in Los Angeles on the 50th death anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. The protests were a direct response to the release of a new study that revealed worsening income, racial, and gender disparities amongst UC’s workforce, including those working directly for UC and those working under contract.

To make matters worse, UC has awarded raises to its highest paid executives while offering its AFSCME-represented workers—UC’s lowest paid career workers—flat wages, benefit cuts, and more outsourcing of jobs. UC has also been unresponsive to the union’s requests for career advancement programs. For service workers, this week’s vote authorized a strike to protest stalled negotiations while patient care workers authorized a sympathy strike in solidarity.

“It’s appalling that 50 years after the death of Martin Luther King Jr., women and people of color are still fighting against unequal treatment at the University of California,” adds Monica De Leon, a Hospital Service Coordinator at UC Irvine and Vice President of AFSCME Local 3299’s Patient Care Unit. “The fact is, UC is institutionalizing these inequalities by outsourcing jobs, cutting benefits, and denying workers the chance to access new skills and higher wages.”

Notable commencement speeches that will conflict with AFSCME Local 3299’s graduation speaker boycott include California Senator Kamala Harris at UC Berkeley on May 12th and civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, at UC San Diego on June 16th.

“When a taxpayer funded university, whose operations are larger than Walmart in California, fails to meet standards of fairness and equality, it’s our duty and responsibility as Californians to hold them accountable,” comments Kathryn Lybarger, Lead Gardener at UC Berkeley and President of AFSCME Local 3299. “Whether by withholding participation in planned UC events, or joining us on picket lines, we’re calling for elected representatives across California to take a stand against injustice and honor our struggle.”

AFSCME will provide UC a ten-day notice in advance of any work stoppage as well as 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.

This year marks AFSCME’s 70th year as the University of California’s largest employee union.