AFSCME 3299 Medical Workers and UC Agree on Contract

The union representing UC Patient Technical Care Workers called off its planned strike last week after coming to an agreement with UC administration on the terms for a new contract for medical workers within the UC system, thereby ending a year-long conflict over the issue.

AFSCME 3299, the union representing medical and service workers within the UC system, has announced its success in negotiating a new contract for medical workers last week and as a result called off a strike that they had been planning if negotiations stretched on. The agreement marks a tentative end to conflict between AFSCME and the UC system over medical workers in the UC system.

“This weekend, the University [of California] returned to the bargaining table in good faith, and we were able to not only avert a strike, but to reach a tentative agreement that 13,000 Patient Technical Care Workers have sought for nearly two years,” AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said after the contract was agreed upon last week.

The feeling was mutual according to Dwayne Duckett, UC vice president for human resources.
“There was true compromise by both sides to reach this agreement,” Duckett said in a news release. “This ends nearly two years of very challenging negotiations and serves as a foundation for UC and AFSCME to build on going forward.”

This success marks the second time this year AFSCME 3299 and the UC system reached an agreement before a threatened strike. In February, AFSCME members voted to strike after negotiations for the service workers’ contract had seemingly come to a halt, but that proposed strike was cancelled after the negotiating team from AFSCME and UC reached a tentative agreement over the contract before the strike.

The Patient Technical Care Worker’s contract followed the same course.

The new Patient Technical Care Worker contract will ensure better pay and work conditions for care workers and removes emergency firing powers from UC management, otherwise known as “eleventh hour firing powers” according to AFSCME’s website. In addition, workers will be given protections from contracting of jobs to outside corporations and increase the size of staffing committees.

These measures were taken to solve the problem of understaffing at UC medical centers and complaints of overworking by employees, which led to a strike last year.

After the contract was agreed upon by the bargaining team, it was sent to be ratified by union members on March 26 and 27. Almost 99 percent of union members who voted approved the contract in its current form, affirming their support for the changes. The contract will be binding until it expires Dec. 31, 2017, in which time a new contract will have to be agreed upon.