CALIFORNIA — Thousands of University of California patient care and service workers across the state are staging a one-day strike Wednesday to protest what their union says is a continuing pattern of unfair labor practices.
The roughly 26,000 workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 are walking picket lines and holding rallies at all nine UC campuses and medical centers, including UC Davis, according to union officials.
“The UC strike itself was precipitated by the unfair labor practices charges,” said AFSCME spokesman Todd Stenhouse. “They broke the law by unilaterally bypassing the bargaining process all together to outsource (union) represented UC jobs.”
The union claims that UC leadership has secretly expanded the outsourcing of AFSCME jobs to “low wage contractors, while evading its legal disclosure and bargaining obligations.”
Union leaders point to a 2017 audit by the California State Auditor that says that while the university “generally adhered” to its established contract policy, it also “has not fully followed its policy for justifying its decisions to displace university employees with services contract workers.”
The audit also notes that on some occasions, the university “avoided competitive bidding by repeatedly amending contracts and through sole-source exemptions” and that UC “could not substantiate $109 million in benefits it claimed as resulting from its systemwide procurement program.”
The union filed six new unfair labor practices complaints with the California Public Employment Relations Board on Oct. 25, alleging violations of state law, UC’s wage and procurement policies and its existing collective bargaining agreements.
Just days before, the board found that the university had failed and refused to provide documentation about its outsourcing to AFSCME, as required by an agreement between UC and the union, and also interfered with bargaining unit employees’ right to be represented by the union, among otherthings.
“There’s really no real ambiguity here with the law,” Stenhouse said. “They are not supposed to be bypassing the bargaining process when they’re outsourcing career jobs and that’s precisely what they’re doing. It’s pretty galling.”
AFSCME represents several different types of UC workers, including security guards, groundskeepers, cooks, custodians, truck drivers, nurse aids, respiratory therapists and radiology techs, among others.
UC officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike.
— Bay City News Service
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