Live Video & Photos From UC Workers Strike in California
Today is day three of the 20,000 plus strong U.C. Worker’s strike in California. The AFSCME Local 3299 Union is striking to protest the growing inequality at the University of California healthcare system.
The University of California operates five medical systems statewide, some with multiple hospitals at each location. Each medical center acts as a teaching and research hospital in addition to serving the public’s healthcare needs. Last year the U.C. system served 4.9 million outpatient visits, 368,000 emergency room visits and 167,000 inpatient visits.
All campuses and medical centers remained open but operated with limited medical, dining and custodial services.
Two other unions also went on strike in a show of solidarity for AFSCME, the California Nurses Association and the University Professional & Technical Employees union which represents social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists and more.
Citizen Truth recorded day two of the UC Workers Strike live in Los Angeles. Keisha Collins, Recording Secretary for the striking AFSCME Union, tells Citizen Truth why U.C. Workers are striking and about the other unions also striking in support of the U.C. workers.
The U.C. Workers Strike is calling it a “strike for equality.” Informational material about the strike states “We are 25,000 Frontline UC Workers that want to address the growing inequality at UC. However, after a year of stalled contract negotiations, UC has made it clear they would much rather continue to ignore it.”
A study done by AFSCME found inequalities in the workforce at the U.C. system. The AFSCME has asked the U.C. system to address the inequalities, but after a year of negations, no progress has been achieved. The study found that black women’s average starting pay is as much as 23 percent lower than that of white men. U.C.’s unionized black workforce has declined by 37 percent since 1996, and the U.C. system’s top 1% of earners make nine times more than the average frontline UC worker.
One woman, Kathreen Bedford, told the East Bay Times last April that after working for 23 years at a U.C. laboratory, she found out a white male she works side-by-side with earns a higher wage than her, despite only having worked for in the U.C. system for two years.
“It’s hurtful,” said Bedford, 53, to the East Bay Times, who is African-American and spent decades working in the University of California system to build up her wage from $13 an hour to $31. “I feel sad. I feel like the time hasn’t changed from when my mother was coming up, from when there was a colored-only water fountain and a white-only water fountain.”
U.C. workers at the strike told Citizen Truth they were as concerned about fair pay for their jobs as they were about the patients. They felt overworked, understaffed and underpaid which impacted their ability to optimally serve patients in the U.C. system.
U.C. system nurses were on strike to support the U.C. AFSCME Workers Strike and emphasized the nurses were on a solidarity strike. The nurses were not striking over their own issues, but rather to emphasize the importance of addressing the needs of the U.C. workers.
Eleanor Escuadro of the California Nurses Association gave Citizen Truth a brief statement:
To learn more about the UC Workers Strike or stand in solidarity with the UC Workers go to afscme3299.org/fight-inequality.