UC implements contract for patient care employees

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The University of California implemented its last offer on wages and benefits for more than 12,000 patient care employees Wednesday.

The implementation follows more than 12 months of negotiations, including a two-day strike in May, between the university and AFSCME Local 3299, the union representing the workers. The contract was implemented on July 24 and will last until negotiations are complete. Either the union or the university can bring new proposals forward, after which negotiations will resume. If both parties agree, the new terms will replace all or part of this contract, depending on which issues were successfully negotiated.

“Having completed all stages of the bargaining process, including state-assisted mediation and fact finding, the university is legally entitled to implement its last proposal,” said UC Vice President for Systemwide Human Resources and Programs Dwaine Duckett in a statement. “We would have preferred to reach a settlement, but this implementation provides our patient care staff with fair wage increases and good benefits now, rather than forcing them to continue waiting through stalled negotiations.”

Changes for AFSCME workers include a guaranteed step increase of 2 percent for eligible employees on or about July 1 and a guaranteed wage increase of 1.5 percent on or about Oct. 1, as well as medical, dental and vision benefits and contribution rates for employees and their families.

The contract also includes an implementation of the university’s post-employment benefits program, which includes an increase in the UC system’s contribution from 10 percent to 12 percent and an increase in employee contribution from 5 percent to 6.5 percent for workers hired before July 1, as well as a slightly modified tier of pension benefits for workers hired on or after July 1.

“The contract imposed on the Patient Care Technical Unit by UC includes a substantially smaller across the board wage increase than UC granted to its management staff on July 1,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in a statement. “UC also is forcing frontline patient care workers to make substantially increased pension contributions, up to a 20% increase in Health Insurance premiums, parking increases up to 10%, and reductions in paid leave.”

Lybarger also stated that the contract does not address alleged unsafe staffing levels at UC hospitals.

“We’ve been negotiating with AFSCME in good faith since June of 2012,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein. “We’ve offered proposals specifically on pension reform, and AFSCME gave nothing back.”

AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse stated that the union has offered compromise but that the offers were pushed aside. He also added that executive pensions continued to increase at the expense of students, workers and taxpayers.

The union held a rally and march in Los Angeles Friday morning where more than 200 supporters protested the university’s announcement. Twenty-five protesters were subsequently arrested for blocking traffic and refusing to disperse.

“We are going to redouble our efforts to hold UC accountable,” Stenhouse said. “Our members are united in standing for a better UC.”

Klein said that there was no planned timetable for negotiations going forward.

Contact Sohan Shah at [email protected].