California – UC Workers Protest for Decent Contract
San Francisco, California
Fair Contract — NOW! — University of California employees — members of Local 3299 — and supporters, including Lee Saunders of AFSCME's International union, demonstrated at UC's medical center in San Francisco in April.
Photo Credit: Thor Swift
Thousands of University of California employees, and their supporters, chose the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic “I've Been to the Mountaintop” speech to mark their ongoing struggle for better wages and benefits.
The employees — members of Local 3299 — demonstrated April 3 at campuses in San Francisco and Los Angeles to highlight the plight of 11,000 patient care workers and more than 9,000 UC service employees who have been working without a contract since early last year.
Dr. King gave his famous “Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tenn., where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers who were seeking recognition of their union, AFSCME Local 1733. Dr. King was assassinated the next day. Four decades later, says Local 3299 Pres. LaKesha Harrison, “we are facing another fight for justice for a group of public servants.”
Harrison notes that UC employees are paid between 25 and 30 percent less than non-university workers who perform similar duties in the same areas. The local wants wages increased to levels comparable to those paid for similar work at Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Healthcare West and various community colleges.
The April demonstration followed another, in January, at all 10 campuses and five medical centers across the state.