A University of California employee union ended its three-day strike Thursday with hopes the UC will return to bargaining with better offers of health care benefits, retirement benefits and job security.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the UC’s largest employee union, held a strike on campus Tuesday to Thursday to protest the UC’s outsourcing of jobs. The union, which represents more than 25,000 service workers and patient care technicians, previously held a three-day strike in May over claims that the UC perpetuates gender-based and racial discrimination in its hiring and wage practices.
Anthony Bonilla, a food service employee at UCLA Dining Services, said he thinks workers like him want the UC to respect their need for job security and health benefits.
“The UC needs to sit down with us and understand what we’re asking for in our contract negotiations,” he said. “We’re mainly asking for our benefits to be the same as our previous contracts, but (the) UC is looking to cut them.”
He added UC employees should not have to choose between paying for a medical bill, that month’s rent or groceries.
The UC wrote in an announcement to students, patients and the public that it offers AFSCME Local 3299 employees health care benefits at the same rates as other UC employees, including those represented by other unions. The release also said lower-salaried employees are paying significantly less than higher-salaried employees.
AFSCME Local 3299 is currently asking for at least a 6 percent raise while the UC is offering a 3 percent raise.
Bonilla added that the efforts of the three-day strike were to ensure workers are able to give the highest quality service to the students and patients of the University.
“We’re just as important to the University as other staff and we’re committed to fighting for workers, students, and patients. We’re aware of growing inequality and efforts to outsource labor,” he said. “We believe this decreases the quality of service that patients and service pay a premium for.”
Gabriela Meza, fourth-year political science and Chicano studies student, said she joined the strike because she wanted to support the workers who allow her to study and live at UCLA.
“(These workers) run the University. They are doing everything that’s by the books, they’re doing everything right, but the University has not been responding to their needs. Their livelihoods are at stake; the UC needs to step in and give them wages, and the benefits the way they want them,” she said.
She added she thinks employees should be able to afford the high cost of living in Westwood and Los Angeles instead of being pushed out.
“Particularly in LA, and UCLA, people can’t even afford to live around here, unless you’re a student cramming six people into one apartment,” she said.