Union Plans to Strike Despite Judge-Ordered Injunction

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A judge has issued an injunction prohibiting the planned strike of thousands of University of California employees across the system, saying the employees' union did not give the university enough notice to strike.

However despite the judge's order, approximately 8,500 members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, still plan to continue their strike beginning July 14.

Union leaders announced on Thursday that they would hold a five-day strike. The union represents approximately 20,000 custodial, security and patient care employees across the UC system.

Union members at all 10 UC campuses and five university medical campuses voted to strike in late May, but ongoing negotiations between the union and the university have since continued.

Lakesha Harrison, president of the union, said the strikers would be primarily service unit employees, as patient care unit employees have made some headway in their negotiations with the university.

Harrison added that the union has not ruled out a patient care workers strike and said some patient care employees will still strike in honor of the service strike line.

The planned strike was set to last for five days, two of which would have been spent protesting on UC campuses and the other three of which would have been spent protesting outside the UC Office of the President.

Following the union's strike announcement, university officials announced early Thursday that the Public Employment Relations Board, the state agency that deals with the bargaining efforts, agreed to the university's request for a court-ordered injunction against the strike, on account of "bad faith bargaining" by the union in negotiations. Judge Patrick J. Mahoney approved the request in the San Francisco County Superior Court earlier today.

The university condemned the union for not giving a 10 day notice prior to the strike as required by law and also for encouraging workers to participate in a strike despite its potential to endanger public safety given their occupations.

Negotiations have been ongoing since August 2007, and the union, which represents approximately 1,243 UC Berkeley employees, initially threatened to strike last month.

"(The university) has done nothing to keep us out of poverty," said Harrison.

Current wages are as low as $10 per hour, forcing many workers to take on two or more jobs to meet their families' needs, she said.

Harrison said that the university workers are paid up to 25 percent less than workers at nearby community colleges and local school districts with comparable jobs.

Despite the court-issued injunction, Harrison maintains that the strike will take place as planned.

"We still plan on being out there," she said. "We believe that the injunction is unfair and we will fight it."

Harrison said the workers' absence during the strike would prove to the university that they should not be neglected.

"The point is that the university learns that they cannot operate without these workers that they keep putting down," she said. "It will show them that they need us and need to do right by us."

UC spokesperson Nicole Savickas said although employees who strike will not necessarily be fired, they will face consequences from the court.

"We expect employees to show up as scheduled and we expect the union to abide by the court order," she said.


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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