Hospital patient care workers planned to rally and march in Los Angeles this afternoon in response to the University of California’s decision to implement its final wage and benefit offer after more than a year of negotiations.
On Wednesday, UC announced that after negotiations dating to June 2012 it was going forward with a package that included a step increase of 2 percent, as well as a 1.5 percent wage increase on Oct. 1.
The raises affect more than 12,000 union workers — about 2,655 at UC Davis — including respiratory therapists, nursing aides and surgical technicians, as well as security guards and other hospital employees at UC’s five medical centers and student health centers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which held a two-day strike in May, has called for capping pensions to UC executives, as well as safe-staffing committees and limits on what jobs temporary workers and volunteers can perform.
“Yesterday, UC administrators declared war on collective bargaining and doubled down on a disastrous strategy of diverting hundreds of millions of dollars away from the system’s academic and health delivery facilities in order to line the pockets of the highest paid public employees in California,” said Kathryn Lybarger, president of Local 3299 in a news release, on Thursday.
Central to the negotiations have been pension reforms. UC says eight unions have agreed to changes similar to those the state has put into place for other workers.
Under the plan UC is implementing for the AFSCME-represented employees hired before July 1, employee contributions will increase from 5 to 6.5 percent and UC’s from 10 to 12 percent. Employees hired after that date will receive a slightly modified tier of pension benefits.
The package also includes a paid time off program combining vacation and sick leave similar to one available to non-union medical center employees.
The announced raises come on top of 5 percent wage increases union members have received for each of the past two years.
Dwaine Duckett, vice president for systemwide human resources and programs, issued a statement saying UC had repeatedly made fair offers that the union declined.
“We would have preferred to reach a settlement, but this implementation provides our patient care staff with fair wage increases and good benefits now, rather than forcing them to continue waiting through stalled negotiations,” Duckett said.