AFSCME Strike: May 16th, 2019

May 17, 2019

By Erin Steckline, Spring 2019 Intern 

With the strike on May 16th, understanding what is at stake is crucial. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Local 3299 is striking against outsourcing by the University of California (UC) system. Three Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) were filed against the UC system; AFSCME asserts that the UC system is entering into contracts with private companies, all while failing to bargain with AFSCME. Refusal of negotiations further displaces AFSCME and its members.

As of 2018, Local 3299 represents more than 25,000 workers and is the University of California’s largest employee union. Local 3299 began when chartered at UC Berkeley as Local 371. Local 3299, however, remains a part of with a larger union, AFSCME. AFSCME boasts more than 1.6 million members, and carries the title of one of the largest unions in the United States. From the disparities of the Great Depression, AFSCME union was first founded in 1932 in Wisconsin before developing into the national organization that it is today.

Following the triumphs of past negotiations, a new issue arises. The UC system authorized spending to outsource $150 million in patient care jobs. They failed to bargain with AFSCME Local 3299 regarding this decision to begin hiring contracted workers. Additionally, the UC system is requesting proposals to outsource every service title within its domain.

From media outlet, Capital and Main, journalist, Joe Rihn, details the grievances of Local 3299, reporting that the UC system would contract private-sector workers to replace unionized employees. These employees are especially at risk because they must continue to reapply in order to keep their positions. Rihn goes on to elaborate that Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Press Secretary Claire Doan believes that this strike qualifies “disservice to unionized employees, who stand to lose 3.5 percent of their pay by taking part in nine strike days in about a year”. Wages, however, are lost by replacing unionized work with privately-contracted jobs, as the UC system slashes already considerably low wages.

For further information, check out the following links and original sources cited within this article:

A Message from the Workers at UCSC, from The Worker Student Solidarity Coalition:

Joe Rihn’s article on Captial and Main:

More information about the strike on May 16, 2019 by the Daily Californian, a Berkley based news outlet:

More information on AFSCME and Local 3299: