AFSCME Local 3299 votes to strike with 96 percent support

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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME Local 3299 — the UC system’s largest employee union — passed a vote to strike with 96 percent support this week.

John de los Angeles, AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson, said the votes for the Patient Care Technical Unit’s strike were held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It is important to stress that this all comes down to job security,” de los Angeles said. “At the last (UC Board of) Regents meeting we made that very clear. We held this vote to let the university know that we are serious about this issue.”

De los Angeles said the vote represents the consent of the union’s full membership. The collective bargaining team is currently holding deliberations to determine when the strike will occur, de los Angeles added.

According to the AFSCME press release, UC’s Patient Care Technical Unit workers voted to authorize a strike because of the alleged outsourcing of jobs to contracting companies that pay workers less with fewer benefits.

“UC is trying to force workers to get by with much less than what’s necessary to provide for our families while lining the pockets of its top brass with excessive salaries, lavish perks, and secret slush funds,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in the press release.

In May, AFSCME Local 3299 staged a strike in protest of the UC forcing contract terms that the union had rejected.

UC spokesperson Claire Doan said in an email that AFSCME leaders have been putting their agenda above the needs of patients, students, employees and the public by calling for another strike. Doan added that AFSCME leaders have not engaged in “constructive” means of communication and are using the threat of a strike as a “scare tactic.”

“This approach already has cost UC service workers several thousand dollars’ worth of pay increases, limits on health insurance costs and other benefits,” Doan said in an email. “Union leaders refuse to allow their own members to vote on UC’s competitive contract offer, instead spending months threatening and now conducting a strike vote.”

According to Doan, the university’s priority is serving its communities, patients and students. She added that the university will do “everything possible” to lessen the impacts of the strike on UC campuses and medical centers.

Campus junior Leandra Ramlo said the campus employees are the ones who allow the campus to operate. Ramlo added that students are able to focus on their academics thanks to the workers, who act as the “engines that keep this place going.”

“If (the workers) didn’t come, I don’t know what this place would look like,” Ramlo said. “I feel like maybe students don’t realize how important they are, and only in their absence will people realize how vital they are.”

Contact Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @von_ehrenstein.