Following AFSCME’s three day strike from May 7-9, union members have yet to hear back from the UC about further contract negotiations.
In the absence of an agreed-upon contract, the UCs implementation of their own status-quo contract without discussion galvanized workers to participate in the strike.
Close to 25,000 members joined the demonstration across all 10 of the UC campuses, including sympathy strikers from other unions. According to John De Los Angeles, a spokesperson from AFSCME Local 3299, many workers “feel empowered after seeing the large numbers of people come out.”
Because negotiations continued to be stalled, AFSCME now looks towards lawmakers and legislators to help further their cause. Various California politicians have spoken out and cancelled speaking engagements in solidarity with union workers. In a statement, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom wrote, “I urge the University to return to negotiations with urgency, and in good faith.”
Senator Kamala Harris and Congressman Ted Lieu have also spoken in support of workers and urged the UCs to continue contract negotiations.
“They know they don’t have an acceptable response … they haven’t responded to our top concern: outsourcing. It isn’t even mentioned. Their silence speaks volumes,” De Los Angeles said.
With other worker contracts in negotiations and about to expire, De Los Angeles anticipates workers will be even more motivated to act collectively.
With the Supreme Court decision on Janus vs. AFSCME tentatively coming within several months, De Los Angeles believes the UCs may be waiting out the case in an attempt to weaken the union. However, De Los Angeles is optimistic about workers.
“We’ve kept all our members up-to-date about what is happening and they know changes are coming. But working people have a way of sticking together and I have faith in our members,” De Los Angeles said.
AFSCME plans to continue to advocate for their contract and further contract negotiations. The union plans to attend the upcoming Regents meeting at UCSF on May 22-24 and speak to UC leaders.