Patient care workers at University of California hospitals, including UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, will be taking a strike vote Oct. 28-30, their union (and the UC's largest) Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced.
The vote follows the recent state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) decision to charge the UC with illegal intimidation and coercion of patient care and service workers during the first-ever strike of UC hospitals in May.
Patient care workers picketed outside UC Irvine Medical Center over stalled contract negotiations in May as hospital administrators accused them of not seriously addressing needed state pension reform. UC administrators reacted by simply imposing its last contract proposal for the 13,000 patient care technical workers up and down the state.
"For more than a year, our members have engaged in good faith bargaining and offered meaningful compromises designed to build ladders to the middle class and make UC facilities safer for students and patients," says AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in the statement announcing the strike vote. "UC's response has been to illegally intimidate and bully the front line workers who serve the public."
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Lybarger goes on to claim that a strike "is the only way to even the playing field and hold UC accountable for attacking the rights of its devoted career workers."
The union contends these are among the lowest paid employees in the UC system, and that 99 percent of the service workers have incomes that make them eligible for some form of public assistance.
The UC has previously responded that AFSCME 3299, unlike other campus unions, employees and administrators, have been unwilling to participate in pension reform.