UC workers go out on one-day strike

Union alleges university outsourcing violating state law

Thousands of University of California workers across the state are staging a one-day labor strike Thursday over alleged unfair labor practices in connection with efforts by the UC system to outsource jobs.

The strike will affect 10 campuses and five medical centers, including UCSF, where an estimated 7,440 employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 are employed.

It is the fifth labor action in 12 months brought by the union, as its members continue to work without contracts after negotiations stalled last year.

Members of the union interrupted a University of California Board of Regents hearing held in San Francisco, chanting “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”

University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), the union repretings UC’s Healthcare and research support professionals and technical units is also participating in the strike.

Earlier this month, AFSCME filed three separate Unfair Labor Practice charges with the Public Employment Relations Board.

The complaints allege that the university illegally entered or sought to enter into agreements with private companies to outsource work, and in doing so bypassed workers by refusing negotiations required by California law.

“Under state law, they are required to meet and confer with the workers,” said Local 3299 spokesperson John De Los Angeles.

One of the complaints is directed at the UC Davis campus, where officials entered late last year into a contract with AYA Healthcare to allow its affiliates access to $150 million in outsourced labor annually.

“The charges highlight the scope, in a detail we have never before seen, of a radical privatization scheme that UC is pushing forward that will ultimately alter its relationship with its workers,” said De Los Angeles, who added that the union and UC have been bargaining for over 25 months but have yet to see eye to eye.

“We failed to reach an agreement, so the state brought in a mediator, and an official impasse was declared,” he said. “The contracts have expired. These workers are working without contracts now but still looking for opportunities to meet with UC.”

In an email statement on Wednesday, UC spokesperson Claire Doan called the strikes “disruptive” and said they have “nothing to do with advancing negotiations.”

“Despite union leaders’ claims about fairness, AFSCME is demanding nearly triple the raises the university has given to other employees,” said Doan, adding that their “push for an 8 percent annual wage increase would cost this taxpayer-funded university hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the contract.”

Doan blamed union leaders for preventing members from voting on “multiple competitive offers” put forward over the last two years.

“In dealing with this issue over the last few months, UC has insisted that [the strike] is about wages and benefits. But what good are wages and benefits if UC is allowed to outsource the jobs tomorrow? This is much more fundamental, it’s about job security,” said De Los Angeles.

At UCSF, Thursday’s strike is expected to cause some programs to operate at reduced capacity, according to a statement issued by the university on Wednesday. Overall, UCSF expects an average 10 percent reduction in outpatient facilities, reflecting “several hundred patient appointments and procedures that are being rescheduled,” according to the statement.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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