Largest UC employee union reaches historic agreement, ending outsourcing

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The UC system reached a historic tentative agreement Tuesday with service workers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 Union, or AFSCME Local 3299.

The tentative agreement ultimately puts an end to outsourcing UC service jobs, while also making it easier for eligible contract workers to convert to UC employment. AFSCME Local 3299 service workers will vote to ratify the contract Jan. 30.

“UC is pleased that after working with AFSCME leadership to address joint concerns and resolve our outstanding differences we have reached a multi-year agreement for our valued employees,” said UC Office of the President spokesperson Andrew Gordon in a statement.

According to Gordon, the contract also includes an annual across-the-board 3% wage increase in the years 2020 to 2024 and pension benefits for new bargaining unit employees similar to the benefits provided for current AFSCME-represented employees.

Liz Perlman, executive director for AFSCME Local 3299, said the historic agreement sets an important pattern for fair wage increases and lowered health care costs for low-wage workers. 

“We also essentially ensured that the university, during the life of our agreement, can’t unilaterally try to change workers’ retirement benefits,” Perlman said. “That’s a really important precedent to be setting, so that there can be labor peace and stability for workers.”

Currently, AFSCME Local 3299 is the UC system’s largest employee union and is composed of 24,000 employees across the 10 UC campuses, 10,000 of whom are service workers. It is not just campus workers, however, that have fought for union rights.

Dominick Williams, campus alumnus and former board member for both the UC Student Association and the ASUC, said he continues to support the union’s movement. As a student, Williams spoke at a couple rallies, describing the troubles AFSCME Local 3299 experienced within the three years of negotiations with the university.

“I was one of many students that made sure to vocalize that students’ rights and workers’ rights were intertwined and that when the UC does its negotiations it often tries to pit students against workers,” Williams said. “After having this victory, it’s great because it shows that when you are solidifying the position, and you have the numbers with you, and you have the student support with you, it doesn’t matter — you can triumph over the UC.”

According to Perlman, the union has been fighting outsourcing by the UC system since the 1980s, granting this agreement its historic recognition.

Over the next four years, Perlman said AFSCME Local 3299 will be working hard to ensure the university follows the commitments made in the agreement.

“It secures our members’ future for the next four years: it provides fair wages to support their families on, provides shared benefits — secure benefits — during the life of the agreement,” Perlman said.

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.