UC Clerical Workers, Lecturers Plan to Strike

Emma Schwartz covers labor. E-mail her at [email protected].

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Lecturers' and clerical workers' unions will begin a two-day strike today on five UC campuses-the second strike this semester.

Lecturers will strike at UC campuses in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Riverside, Irvine and Davis, while clerical workers will join them on the same campuses except UC Irvine.

The strike comes after a round of negotiations between officials from UC and the Coalition of University Employees, the clerical workers' union, ended Friday.

UC officials offered a 1.5 percent wage increase and set an Oct. 31 deadline for the clerical workers' union to respond.

Students at UC campuses with employees on strike may face canceled classes and other disruptions when faculty and staff join the picket lines at campus entrances to protest UC's alleged "unfair labor practices."

Although UC Berkeley employees will not strike, the unions will hold a teach-in on Memorial Glade today at 11:30 a.m. and a noon rally on Sproul Plaza tomorrow to support the strike.

There will be no interruptions of academic activities at UC Berkeley, said Debra Harrington, manager of labor relations for UC Berkeley.

Some Academic Senate faculty members and the student governments at UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz wrote letters to university officials supporting the lecturers' strike.

"The heart of the university is the faculty," said Shelly Errington, a UC Santa Cruz anthropology professor.

Errington co-authored a letter from the executive board of the Santa Cruz Faculty Association supporting a strike.

"Our roles are different, but both senate faculty and (lecturers) work to maintain the academic integrity of the course and programs for students," she said. "A fair contract for lecturers can only help maintain the quality of teaching and academic programs."

Other local unions such as the graduate student instructors' union, have also committed to joining the picket lines at the five campuses.

"The strike is bringing a coalition of unions together to say to the university that we are not going away," said Silvia Rodriguez, a member of the UC Santa Barbara chapter of CUE.

The university's position on the strike has not changed from UC President Richard Atkinson's statement in September responding to the three-day strike by local chapters of both unions at UC Berkeley, said UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz.

"We regret the unions' decision to ask our employees to consider participating in this type of action," Atkinson said in the statement.

UC's offer of a 1.5 percent wage increase has not changed since negotiations in May. The proposal includes a one-year retroactive 2 percent cost of living increase mandated by the state Legislature.

The deadline that UC has offered makes this proposal different from prior offers, according to a UC statement.

"We are making a firm wage offer," said Gayle Cieszkiewicz, executive director of UC labor relations, in the statement. "We've given (the clerical workers' union) a reasonable, but definite amount of time to respond to know exactly where the union stands and what next steps we need to take."

If CUE officials accept the proposal, it will go into effect retroactively as of Oct. 1, said Margy Wilkinson, chief negotiator for the clerical union.

But union officials said it was unlikely they would accept the offer because it does not address concerns of alleged unfair labor practices.

"Unfortunately the offer that they made does not begin to deal with the issue of their bad faith bargaining, which is what the (upcoming) strike is about," Wilkinson said.

Negotiations between UC and the lecturers' union are scheduled to begin Oct. 21.


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