UC System Employees Plan to Strike for Better Wages and a Contract

SACRAMENTO -- Thousands of people employed by the University of California system, including those at UC Davis' Medical Center in Sacramento, plan to strike due to what a union member calls, "income inequality."

“Come on UC, you talk about patient care? Take care of your people, and then you can talk about patient care," said senior custodian, William Bennett.

Bennett is one of thousands employed by the University of California system who will not be at work tomorrow. He will be at work, but he will be picketing, not working.

Bennett says they are, “striking for better wages, and [they] need a contract.”

The UC says it has offered better wages, 3 percent a year over the next four years. There would be an increase in health care premiums, but capped at no more than $25 dollars a month.

“With respect to income inequality, we found UC’s top administrators’ share of the payroll grew by 64 percent,” said John de los Angeles of ASFCME Local 3299.

The UC says pay for top administrators accounts for less than 1 quarter of  1 percent of the systems’ overall budget, but the local 3299 workers striking tomorrow say it represents an inequality antithetical to the system’s mission.

Those workers include custodians, food service employees, security guards, grounds keepers, and truck drivers. Along with vocational nurses, respiratory therapists, radiologist, nurse aids and similar.

In many cases, non-essential appointments at UC Davis Medical Center have been rescheduled.

“One of the things we’ve done over the past 10 days is to identify what services may be modified. One of those is our food and nutrition services. Specifically what we’re looking at doing is closing our cafeteria. But behind that we’ll be providing our patients with box breakfast, lunch, and a nice warm meal in the evening,” said Toby Marsh, chief nursing officer.

The goal he says, is that all patients continue to receive high quality care at UC Davis Medical Center.

And the hospital got some help with that this Friday, when Sacramento Judge Christopher Krueger issued a temporary restraining order for staff vital for patient care- telling them they are not allowed to participate in the strike.