AFSCME Strikes at the University of California

Mignon Combs Campus, News

Thursday afternoon students at UCLA joined employees striking in Bruin Plaza. The 3-day strike was conducted by Patient Care Technical workers joined by other AFSCME Local 3299 workers and UPTE-CWA.

This is the second strike by AFSCME in 6 months. The first occurred in May and also included the California Nurses Association. Last month CNA approved a 3% annual wage increase proposed in September by the University of California. AFSCME came to no such agreement. CNA did not participate in the second strike from October 23-25.

The October 23-25 strike comes as AFSCME and the UC exceed over 20 months of contract negotiations. AFSCME argues that the UC did not negotiate in good faith and instead “imposed its own terms: healthcare premium increases, flattening wages, a risky 401(k) and still more outsourcing of [worker’s] jobs,” according to their statement on the decision to strike.

The UC Bargaining Updates state “As a public university system, we work to balance our responsibilities to students, faculty, staff, retirees and taxpayers.” They further argue that “AFSCME leadership has made wage, benefit and other demands that threaten that balance.”

The strike, which occurred simultaneously at UC campuses and medical centers across the state, drew both praise and criticism from members of the UCLA community. Some students, pictured above, joined workers on the picket lines in an explicit statement of support.

The Black community at UCLA has a long history of supporting strikes and protests both on and off campus. In decades past Black Bruins were instrumental in movements to secure rights for people here and abroad, the action to ensure UC divestment from South Africa being one of the most significant.

As the strike comes to a close and the UCLA campus largely returns to business as usual, it is worth asking how Black Bruins see their role in the longstanding contract conflict between the UC and AFSCME.

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Image submitted by Marcelo Clark