Stalled UC and AFSCME Negotiations Could Lead to Second Labor Strike

Photo courtesy of The Triton.

UC San Diego workers and students protested against the UC system’s low wages for workers and outsourcing of jobs on Wednesday, September 26, ahead of a potential second strike of the year.

UC labor union American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 organized protests at two separate locations, one on Library Walk and one in Muir College, to stand in solidarity with other AFSCME members who protested at a UC Regents meeting hosted at UCLA.

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) previously agreed to hold a bargaining meeting with AFSCME members at UC Davis Medical Center, where they would discuss the terms of the contract. However, UCOP and AFSCME offer disputing accounts as to why this meeting did not take place.

UCOP Director of Media Relations Claire Doan stated that rumors of an AFSCME demonstration led them to offer alternative venues in Sacramento and Oakland that would prevent any disruptions to patient care. In response, AFSCME Local 3299 Communications Director John de los Angeles claimed that there had been no plans to demonstrate before the meeting was cancelled, and that the proposed alternative venues would keep a significant number of AFSCME members from attending.

Contract negotiations have been ongoing since June 30, 2017. AFSCME Local 3299 is asking for a six-percent wage increase for their workers each year for the next four years, an end to outsourced labor, and a better retirement plan, among other demands. The UC system’s latest offer to AFSCME is a three-percent wage increase each year for the next four years, similar health benefits as other UC employees, no changes to their current retirement plan, and no mention of outsourcing.

“The UC [system] has literally built its profits off the labor of the workers represented by AFSCME 3299, and specifically off the exploitation of black and brown bodies,” said ASUCSD Organizing Director and AFSCME intern Prajay Lolabattu. “[Students] must continue to bridge gaps between the identities of worker and student.”

According to an AFSCME press release, union leaders announced at the September UC Regents meeting that their members will be voting October 9 and 10 whether to strike for the second time this year. The first strike was a three-day event in May, in which 53,000 AFSCME members protested against both the UC system’s outsourcing practices and increasing income, gender, and racial disparities. At UCSD, the first strike caused limited dining hall operations and HDH outsourcing of housing maintenance workers.

“[The UC system] is disappointed that AFSCME leadership has indicated they will ask their members to vote on whether to strike instead of on our offer,” said Danielle Smith, a member of the UCOP Media Relations team, in response to the AFSCME announcement. “AFSCME leadership is requesting a wage increase that is double what other unions have agreed to—and what was given to non-represented employees.”

Matthew Rom-Toribio is an Assistant News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @MT2o.