UC-AFT stands with AFSCME

As our members have probably heard, there’s a strike happening on all the campuses this week.  We urge all members to support this strike to the greatest extent they can. You can click on the images below to download the flyers in PDF form. Below are some FAQs about how you can get involved.

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Who’s striking?

The Patient Care Technical Unit of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)—who represent patient care workers in UC hospitals—will be striking for the second time next Tuesday through Thursday since reaching impasse in negotiations with the UC Office of the President. The other UC units of AFSCME, including service workers such as groundskeepers, shuttle drivers, dining hall workers, and janitors, will be striking as well.

In solidarity with AFSCME, UC healthcare, research, and technical workers represented by University Technical and Professional Employees (UPTE), as well as graduate student teaching assistants, represented by the United Auto Workers union (UAW) will be holding sympathy strikes concurrently.

How long is the strike?

The strike has been announced to begin at 4am Tuesday (23rd) and end at 3.59am Friday (26th).

What about our union (UC–AFT)?

Because our contract expired on the 30th of last month, we are currently working under the same rules of the previous contract but with one important difference: We are no longer bound by the ‘no concerted activity’ (i.e. sympathy strike) clause and cannot be forced to cross the AFSCME/UAW/UPTE picket line.

Is UC-AFT calling a sympathy strike?

Our bargaining team has discussed and while there is strong interest in doing so, we also recognize that we just went out of contract for the first time in our 30+ year history. Further, we have just begun to explain to our members the mechanics and implications of a sympathy strike. We would need a vote of the membership to authorize such a strike.  We’re sorry to say that we cannot sympathy strike as a unit for these reasons, and we are instead leaving librarian participation to personal conscience/decision.

If I don’t cross the picket line and don’t report to work, can I be disciplined or even fired?

No. Even UCOP has acknowledged that, being out of contract, we are within our rights to withhold our labor during this strike. Joining the strike will not have an impact on your benefits, even if you take time off without pay.

Can I call in sick, in order to honor the picket line? No.  If you are personally choosing to stand in sympathy with AFSCME, you must take the day as leave without pay. If you are sick this week, the University may ask for documentation once you report sick leave, so be sure to maintain that information in case the University challenges your absence.

Do I have other options?

You can cross the picket line and report to work; you can arrange some sort of leave with your supervisor (though vacation time can require prior approval); you can join the picket lines before and after work, and go to the rally at Noon each day.

If I choose to sympathy strike, do I just stay home?  

Absolutely not!  Staying home will do little to help AFSCME. The sacrifice of striking needs to be known to have an impact. Tell your review initiator (supervisor) what you’re doing, and why. Join the picket lines on your campus! Be visible in any way you can in your support of the strikers.  Talk to your colleagues about how and why you are honoring the picket.  Wear your Librarian shirt/button, but carry AFSCME signs.  (Don’t carry signs on our issues, like academic freedom.  Stay focused on supporting AFSCME.)

Why do I need to be involved? Can’t this all be left to the bargaining team?

It is true that winning better contracts is partially a matter of tactics at the bargaining table, but change truly happens outside the bargaining room, out on the campuses, by union members making noise. Showing solidarity with our co-workers by not crossing their picket line—and better still by joining it whenever possible—sends a message of unity amongst employees and will help us gain reciprocal support from the other unions as we escalate our own contract campaign.  But more importantly, AFSCME deserves and need our support right now!

The choice is yours to make.

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