Judge Enjoins UC Worker Strike, University Says; Workers Say Strike is OK

By Judith Scherr
Saturday July 12, 2008 - 01:57:00 PM

Although a University of California press statement issued Friday says a San Francisco Superior Court judge has enjoined University of California service workers around the state from participating in a five-day strike scheduled for July 14-18, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union says the university misinterpreted the judge’s order, so the service workers will be out in force on strike beginning Monday. 

“We don’t think UC is telling the truth about what the judge said,” Lakesha Harrison, AFSCME president, told the Planet Friday afternoon. 

Harrison said the court wanted more specifics about strike dates and that was given to the court. 

“It’s our constitutional right to strike,” Harrison said. 

The UC statement says the university has offered wage increases of 26 percent over the next five years for patient care employees, and increases in minimum hourly rates for service workers from $10.28 to $11.50 or $12 per hour. The statement says the university has agreed to transition the employees to a step-based salary structure proposed by the union and “to continue to provide them the same high quality health and pension benefits offered to all UC employees, at the same cost as other employees.” 

Harrison said the increase to $11.50 per hour is inadequate and that the promised step increase is not funded. She said 96 percent of the service workers are eligible for federal subsidies such as food stamps or low-income housing because their pay is so low. 

UC Berkeley workers—bus drivers, gardeners, cafeteria workers, custodians—plan to start picketing on Monday at the Berkeley campus, and to move later in the week to the UC president's office in downtown Oakland.