Thousands of University of California research and technical workers, joined in solidarity by thousands more healthcare and patient-care employees, will conduct a one-day strike at facilities across the state Wednesday amid contentious contract negotiations.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to join the striking workers outside Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, one of many strike locations planned around California.
About 10,000 workers represented by the University Professional & Technical Employees, or UPTE, union are expected to walk picket lines.
According to union officials, they are expected to be joined by about 5,000 UPTE-represented healthcare workers and potentially up to 27,000 patient-care technical and service workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
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The union claims the UC's latest wage-increase offer is less than half of what it gave workers represented by the California Nurses Association, and also included retirement cuts while rejecting overtime improvements and limitations on the use of part-time workers.
"It's insulting for UC executives to continue to try to force us into accepting these offers," UC San Diego information-technology worker David Carlos said in a statement released by the union. "It shows a profound lack of commitment to the institution as a whole. Research and technology drive UC's greatness and the short-sighted attempt by UC executives to undermine and outsource career work will be felt by students, patients and the public at large."
A university representative countered that the UPTE's salary double-digit salary demands "are far beyond those given to other UC employees."
"Since negotiations began in 2017, our offers have been fair and substantial, guaranteeing competitive wage increases and excellent benefits," according to the university. "Meanwhile, UPTE leaders have neither presented a realistic counteroffer nor allow their members to vote on UC's proposals."
University officials said they are "doing everything we can to make sure this ill-advised strike has only a minimal impact on student services, patient care and our university communities."
According to the union, the UPTE workers staging Wednesday's walkout run clinical healthcare trials and laboratory tests, manage classroom and hospital technology, monitor building safety and care for research animals, among other tasks.