UC Employees Begin Voting on Whether to Authorize Strike

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    University of California, Berkeley.

    Patient care and service workers at the ten University of California campuses across the state began voting today on whether to authorize a strike based on their union's allegation that the university engaged in unfair labor practices.

    Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents 22,000 employees, said the voting will continue through the end of the day on Wednesday and the results probably won't be announced until early next week.

    Stenhouse said if workers vote to authorize a strike, they could go on strike at some point in the near future after giving notice but the union still hopes to engage in further bargaining with the university.

    He said the union has filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board alleging that UC engaged in unfair labor practices by threatening the jobs of employees who staged a two-day strike at five UC medical centers in May.

    UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the university denies that it engaged in unfair labor practices.

    Klein said the university asked employees ahead of time if they were going to honor the strike but did so only for planning purposes.

    Klein said that after the strike, the university implemented the terms of its last, best and final offer to more than 13,000 patient care technical workers and more than 8,300 service workers.

    She said the university and AFSCME Local 3299 are scheduled to bargain again next week and the university hopes to reach an agreement that would avert a strike.

    Stenhouse said the contract implemented by the university called for a wage freeze and for employees to pay more for their pension benefits.

    But Klein said the contract simply brings the pension contributions of patient care and service workers in line with most other UC employees.

    She said patient care and service workers previously paid only 5 percent of their pension costs but now pay 6.5 percent, which is what most other employees pay.

    Management employees pay 12 percent of their pension costs, she said.

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