After nearly two years at the bargaining table, the University of California and its unions are again negotiating in public.
Nearly 200 employees from the University Professional and Technical Employees picketed the UC Davis Medical Center on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento at 11 a.m. Wednesday. They waved signs that said “Equality for all” and “UC for the many” during lunchtime on Wednesday. Many chanted “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”
They joined thousands of research, technician and health care workers at 10 UC campuses and five medical centers across the state, who say they’re striking for the day because talks with the university have come to a standstill.
Dan Russell with the UPTE union, which represents 39,000 workers, says the UC is eliminating jobs.
“UC is insisting on continuing to outsource our jobs, to cut benefits, while they're giving their high-level executives five-figure raises every year, six-figure bonuses," he said.
UC Davis Medical Center spokesman Steve Telliano said the union’s assertions of job losses are untrue.
"The union's been talking about outsourcing,” he said. “But over the last five years, we've created actually more than 1,000 new jobs for union-represented employees here at UC Davis Medical Center."
Russell says the union wants 5.5 percent raises each year for the next four years, which he argues more closely resembles a contract California nurses signed last fall.
The UC is offering six, 3-percent raises through 2023, including one this April and another in October. It is also proposing a $1,250 payment to each employee upon ratification of a contract.
Under the UC’s proposal, there would be no change to current employees’ retirement benefits, and worker contributions to health benefits would be capped at $25 a month.
The UC says it has not received much in response from the union.
“We have made a number of proposals. Unfortunately, the union has not made any counter-proposals and we can't really negotiate against [ourselves],” Telliano said.
Both sides have different views about the planned UC Davis rehabilitation hospital at Aggie Square, a forthcoming development near the medical center. The union claims the hospital’s creation of 200 non-union jobs at the facility amounts to outsourcing.
Telliano says no one at UC Davis will be required to work at Aggie Square. He also says those employees will be able to go through the process to vote on, and possibly receive, union representation.
Employees also went on strike at UC campuses in Los Angeles, San Francisco, La Jolla and Irvine on Wednesday. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union also protested in sympathy.
UC Davis said the strike did not impact service or surgeries, and that 74 percent of UPTE and AFSCME employees reported to work today.