University of California service and patient care technical workers begin strike

University of California service and patient care technical workers began striking Nov. 13 over the alleged illegal outsourcing of jobs, according to the union that represents them.

The workers were scheduled to strike at all 10 University of California campuses and five medical centers throughout the day. AFSCME Local 3299 did not provide a specific number of striking workers but said thousands of workers were striking across the state.

Union leaders called the strike after filing six unfair labor practice charges against the university, they said in a news release. The charges, filed with California's Public Employment Relations Board, accuse the university of trying to secretly expand outsourcing of service and patient care jobs, while eluding its legal disclosure and bargaining obligations. The union cited documents recently published by the California Legislature showing the university has increased spending on outsourcing of campus service and patient care jobs by 52 percent since 2016.    

"UC's illegal outsourcing not only eliminates middle-class career pathways — it unilaterally imposes lower wages, more inequality and more risk of employer abuse on thousands of vulnerable workers," said AFSCME member Monica De Leon, who works at UC Irvine Hospital. 

The university called the strike "unfortunate." 

"During the 40 days of bargaining, UC has presented union leaders a dozen comprehensive proposals that would give our hardworking employees their long-overdue agreement," according to statement from the university.

The university added that it hoped union leaders "will soon allow a member vote on UC's fair offers."

UC said the number of AFSCME-represented employees has increased by double digits in the last five years and that the university's contracts with the union "protect employees from displacement due to contracting, and no employee can be terminated as a result of a subcontracting decision."

The union and university have been in contract negotiations for 2½ years. 

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