UC Union Workers Announce Potential Strike

SACRAMENTO -- Union President Kathryn Lybarger expressed her frustration at Wednesday's UC Regent's meeting at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Not only are wages a hang up in getting a new contract, but the union also says the universities' practice of assigning work to outside contractors is a key issue that is forcing their hand.

"UC Service and Patient Care Technical units will vote on Oct. 9 and 10 to go on strike," said Kathryn Lybager, the president of AFSCME Local 3299.

It's no idle threat. Last May the union staged a three-day walkout that included security guards, groundskeepers, cooks and custodians.

Patient care workers at UC medical facilities, including UC Davis, included nurses aids, respiratory therapists, radiology technicians and patient transporters.

When unions representing nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists joined the strike in sympathy, the strikers numbered 52,000 statewide.

The UC Davis Medical Center covered with contract workers and it said that nearly 80 percent of workers stayed on the job. Still, hundreds of patient visits were rescheduled and 100 surgeries postponed.

The union says it was an act of last resort.

"When workers go on strike it is absolutely an economic hardship for them," said union spokesman John de los Angeles. "They don't get paid when they go on the strike line and they don't get paid a lot to begin with."

The university has said that walkout did nothing to change its mind about salary demands which it said are unreasonable compared to what other UC workers are getting.

It also says contracting out services is allowed under the current contract.