UC Workers and Students Picket in Support of AFSCME’s Contract Fight

On December 6, University of California employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 held statewide pickets at all five UC medical centers and 10 campuses to express their concerns with current working conditions and their effect on patient care and student services. At UC Santa Cruz, approximately 200 students and workers from AFSCME and other Monterey Bay Area unions participated in a rain soaked picket and rally in the Bay Tree Plaza.

The contract for over 11,000 patient care workers represented by AFSCME Local 3299 expired on September 30, 2007. The contract for the 9,000 additional UC workers represented by the AFSCME Local 3299 will expire on January 31, 2007. The members of Local 3299 are concerned with the ongoing direction of the University and how it is affecting their ability to provide the highest quality patient care and student services. AFSCME Local 3299 members include custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, groundskeepers, patient care providers and technicians.

You can listen to audio coverage of the protest at UC Berkeley courtesy of the KPFA Evening News:

The Student and Worker Coalition for Justice at UC Santa Cruz has been actively supporting the AFSCME Local 3299 workers. On November 20th, students joined workers on a delegation to the Chancellor to deliver empty plates signed by workers & students, protesting the fact that the Chancellors in the UC are all getting 33% raises while workers aren’t making enough to get by and to let the Chancellor know that AFSCME workers will be working 2nd and 3rd jobs just to put food on the table. Protesters expressed outrage that Chancellor Blumenthal would consider accepting a 33% raise before paying all UC workers a basic living wage, market rate salary steps and ensuring healthcare and pension protections.

The Student and Worker Coalition for Justice (SWCJ) is a group of students at UCSC that is dedicated to insuring justice for all workers on campus. The SWCJ works closely with the unions present at UCSC, and because AFSCME is in a struggle for a fair contract this year, much of the SWCJ’s efforts have gone into organizing student for AFSCME workers. If you are interested in supporting the workers that allow the the University of California to function, then you can get involved by going to the SWCJ meetings on Wednesdays at 6pm at the top of the Student Union Building at UCSC.

Members of unions off campus also attended the rally, including:

For more background information and photos from the September 27th rally at UCSC in support of AFSCME, please see:

Student and Worker Solidarity Kicks Off School Year at UCSC

Crossposted at Indybay.org.