The UC chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced plans to call for a strike vote in February, citing remaining concerns over staffing standards and wage increases for some of its workers.
AFSCME Local 3299 will hold the strike vote Feb. 11 to 13 among its 8,300 service unit workers, including custodial staff and food service workers, while calling for a sympathy strike vote among its 13,000 patient care service workers, according to a statement released by the union Wednesday.
Union president Kathryn Lybarger also announced the strike vote during public comment — during which AFSCME members protested briefly — at the UC Regents meeting Wednesday, calling for the regents to push the UC Office of the President to settle the remaining contractual negotiations.
“Regents have the ability to bring end to this dispute. We need them to get involved,” Lybarger said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “They need to know that our backs are against the wall, and we wanted them to know that it’s come to the point of a strike vote.”
Though many contractual disputes between the union and the university — such as revised pension plans for service employees — have been settled, disputes regarding safe staffing guidelines and wage increases remain.
In particular, the union highlights the extension of safe staffing standards to the California Nurses Association without the same accommodations to AFSCME and what it deems comparatively insufficient wage increases for AFSCME employees. Examples of safe staffing standards are the inclusion of third-party negotiators in workplace disputes and contractual protections to guarantee breaks during the workday.
“As we’ve said all along, we believe a labor strike is not productive and hurts our patients and students,” said UC spokesperson Shelly Meron in an email. “These issues need to be resolved at the bargaining table.”
According to earlier labor contract negotiations, the university proposed annual raises of 3.5 percent for 2014 to 2016 — in addition to existing increases of 2 to 3.5 percent from earlier this year — for patient-care and service workers, compared to the union’s demands for an annual 9.5 percent wage increase for 2013 to 2016.
The university has reached five new contracts with six bargaining units over the last three months, including an annual wage increase of 4 percent for the next four years for CNA nurses and annual increases of 3 percent for the next four years, in addition to 3 percent increases for the next three years, for police officers.
The union and the university negotiated for more than a year, with more meetings scheduled later this month, according to Meron. AFSCME 3299 held a strike in November and May 2013. Members will determine the exact timing and length of the protest at the vote if it passes, but Lybarger confirmed a strike would occur at all UC campuses.