On the Picket Line

University of California workers strike three days for contract

By Carole Lesnick
May 21, 2018

Some 25,000 nonteaching workers at the statewide University of California system — custodians, groundskeepers, food service workers, truck drivers, lab technicians and nurses aides — went on a three-day strike beginning May 7.

These members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 were joined for the next two days by solidarity actions of 14,000 members of the California Nurses Association who work at the university’s medical centers and student clinics, and 15,000 members of the University Professional and Technical Employees, who work as pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists, physician assistants and researchers.

Union leaders and state college bosses failed to reach agreement last year and mediation efforts have since failed. Low wages, health care premiums, pensions and job outsourcing are some of the main issues.

Workers were particularly upset when the union published a study in April based on university statistics that had not been public that showed a growing gap between pay for administrators and workers. It also showed that workers who were Black, Latino and female were paid less for comparable jobs.

Union members voted by 97 percent to strike. University officials then imposed their rejected offer on workers.