AFSCME Strike Date Decided

AFSCME 3299, the statewide California union of University of California service and patient care workers, notified UC that its members will be participating in an unfair labor practice strike on Wednesday, Nov. 20, beginning at 12:00 a.m. and ending at 11:59 p.m. The union announced that its members participating in the 24-hour strike will also be engaging in picketing activity at all UC facilities that employ service and patient care workers.

“Our members have both the legal right and moral responsibility to stand up for the safety of the students and patients we serve,” AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said.

According to the union’s press release, the strike is in response to the UC’s illegal intimidation of its patient care and service workers that participated in a two-day walk-out earlier this year in May over unsafe staffing levels at taxpayer supported UC hospitals, hospitals that posted record profits last week.

Lybarger continued, “By attempting to silence workers, UC hasn’t just repeatedly broken the law – it has willfully endangered all who come to UC to learn, to heal and to build a better life for their families.”

UC Vice President of Human Resources Dwaine Duckett released a public statement in response to the strike. Duckett’s statement responded to the union’s accusations of the UC’s alleged intimidation, coercion and threats.

“The fact is that UC asked AFSCME-represented employees if they planned to come to work, as is our normal procedure, so we could adjust staffing as needed and ensure we could still care for our patients during the strike.”

Though the union has already filed an unfair labor practice complaint  with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the board has not released a ruling or held a hearing on the matter yet.

According to the UC release, the university returned to negotiations this week with AFSCME, proposing several packages that included movement on several key issues raised by AFSCME (such as wages, pensions and health care benefits). The union has not accepted any of these bargaining offers.

“We cannot — and will not —  balance AFSCME’s demands on the backs of our students and patients,” the statement said. “We deeply regret the California Nurses Association’s decision to ask its members to strike in sympathy with AFSCME. We do not believe that CNA’s participation in another union’s strike while it is still bargaining with UC is in our patients’ or the public’s best interest. We have had very productive contract talks with CNA as recently as this past week, and will continue to work toward a settlement, but a sympathy strike sets up a very poor, unproductive dynamic.”

As was the case in May, AFSCME has formed a Patient Protection Task Force to handle emergency needs at the medical centers during the strike and voluntarily exempted dozens of represented critical care hospital workers from participating in the strike next week due to concerns for patient protection. Locations and times of picket lines at all five UC medical centers and all 10 UC campuses will be announced this week.

“Our members — to say nothing of the people we serve – deserve a workplace that is free of this kind of blatant bullying. Without it, the entire UC community is at risk,” Lybarger said.


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