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UC union workers to hold strike on Nov. 20

By Daily Bruin

Nov. 8, 2013 4:45 p.m.

University of California union workers announced Friday that they will hold a one-day strike on Nov. 20 at UC campuses and medical centers against what they call unfair labor practices.

Members from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299 union, which represents more than 22,000 service and patient care workers at the UC, voted earlier this month to authorize the strike.

A representative from the UC could not be reached for comment.

The union said it would strike to protest what they claimed to be illegal intimidation and coercion from UC officials as the union was preparing for its most recent strike in May.

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

AFSCME 3299 said it will take measures to ensure patient safety during the strike, including having a Patient Protection Task Force to take care of emergencies at UC medical centers.

[UPDATED at 3:30 p.m. In a statement released late Friday, Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for systemwide human resources and programs, said the University is “very disappointed” in AFSCME 3299’s decision to strike for a second time in seven months. He said AFSCME 3299 should not put patient care in jeopardy for the sake of labor negotiations.

According to the statement, UC President Janet Napolitano met with local and national AFSCME leaders and said she would prioritize reaching an agreement with them.

The University had negotiated with AFSCME this week and proposed several offers in an attempt to address the union’s concerns about wages, pensions and healthcare benefits, all of which AFSCME rejected, Duckett said.

In response to AFSCME’s allegations that the University threatened UC workers, Duckett said that the Public Employment Relations Board – which helps settle disputes between employers and employees, and with which AFSCME filed a complaint against the UC – has not found that the University engaged in illegal coercion against its workers. The board conducts hearings on labor disputes and proposes a written decision based on evidence at the hearing.

The University has negotiated with AFSCME for over a year and implemented wage increases for union workers. It also raised pension contributions for the University and all UC employees in July.

“We have done everything we can to end the cycle of conflict and dysfunction,” Duckett said. “Unfortunately, despite our efforts, there has been no reciprocation on AFSCME’s part, and we are still far from an agreement.”

Duckett added that the UC must be fiscally prudent in giving wage increases to union workers, considering that the University has recently undergone hundreds of millions in state budget cuts.]

Compiled by Kristen Taketa, Bruin senior staff.

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