Unionized employees of the University of California hospitals throughout the state on Feb. 19 began to discuss strikes, calling for “equal pay for equal work.” Workers plan to vote between April 30 and May 2 on whether to strike. Negotiations, which have been ongoing for the last 10 months, have reached an impasse the union says.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, AFL-CIO represents 21,000 patient care and service workers at the University of California. These workers include licensed vocational nurses, medical techs and assistants, respiratory therapists, custodians, cafeteria workers and security officers.
The University says the strikes are being discussed because the union has failed to agree to the University’s pension reforms. Beginning July 1, the University of California will require that employees pay more of their incomes toward pensions.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the University reports that pay has increased as much as 3.5 percent for the next four years. In addition, pay has increased by another 5 percent for union members in each of the previous two years.
President of AFSCME Local 3299 Lakesha Harrison, a licensed vocational nurse said, “This is a matter of priorities. UC Executives need to ensure UC keeps its best staff by paying equal pay for equal work. UC is losing good people to other hospitals where pay is about 25 percent higher. We are concerned this is causing staffing shortages and over-reliance on temps. That’s not the kind of patient care people expect from UC.”
The strike could affect patient care.