The UC system reached a tentative contract agreement Tuesday with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, or AFSCME Local 3299, a union that represents systemwide patient and service care workers.
The agreement came after AFSCME — which represents about 16,000 UC patient care workers and 10,000 service workers — filed complaints against the UC system concerning its outsourcing of jobs to contracting companies that underpay workers. This newly established agreement looks to improve worker compensation and provide health and welfare benefits.
“It’s a balanced agreement that honors the contributions that our members make every day,” said AFSCME Local 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse. “(The members) made a lot of sacrifices, they showed a lot of courage.”
The agreement includes, among other things, annual 3% compensation increases “across-the-board” for patient and service workers, compensation increases based on experience and the continuing prohibition of layoffs because of subcontracting, according to a UC Office of the President, or UCOP, press release. Both patient care and service workers will receive health and welfare benefits at “graduated salary-based rates” like other UC employees, according to the press release.
The agreement will span four years, according to Stenhouse.
“I think these are real enforceable limits on outsourcing,” Stenhouse said. “We have secured a UC employment track, we have secured equal pay opportunities.”
Though he feels the agreement is a step in the right direction, Stenhouse said the included wage and benefit packages are less about getting ahead and more about not getting left behind.
Since 2017, UC service and patient care workers have been working without a contract. According to an AFSCME 3299 press release, the agreement also ensures transparency in UC contracting practices, sets strict limits to cut down outsourcing and sets UC career paths for contractors. Additionally, the deal expands career advancement possibilities for the lowest wage workers in the UC system.
“This victory is a testament to our members’ commitment to their families, to each other, and to the students and patients we are proud to serve each day,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in the press release.
The deal still has yet to be approved by the union’s membership, though Stenhouse noted that AFSCME has recommended its members ratify the agreement, according to the release.
Hoping the agreement would begin a “new era” of cooperation, Stenhouse said the union raises these concerns about the UC system because they are issues people see and live with every day.
“It’s important to remember that … one of the things that makes union representation and strong unions so important is the ability to enforce those agreements,” Stenhouse said. “It’s about two entities holding each other accountable rather than one entity saying they’re going to hold themselves accountable.”