Strikers asking for pay raise at UCSD

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union local 3299 are engaged in a state-wide strike against University of California facilities this week. They say that the university is paying “poverty wages” to its service workers and is failing to guarantee them pay increases.

Picketers and marchers have been prominent at entrances to UCSD.

The strike, which began on Monday, will end Saturday.

There is some controversy over whether the strike is legal, with university officials saying a judge had ruled against the strike and union officials saying they have met the conditions the judge set for them to be allowed to strike.

University officials estimated that a third of its service workers failed to show up for work as part of the strike on Monday.

UCSD said it was able to cover the absence of primarily housekeeping and dietary staff members without any direct impact on patients.

“We have been able to cover for those employees who did not come in today,” said Leslie Franz, director of communication for UCSD Health Sciences on Monday. “We have been able to continue our patient care at the normal level.”

Union spokesperson Celene Perez said roughly 1,200 of the organization’s 8,500 service employees work in San Diego and that “a good majority of workers” were participating in the strike.

In a statement, university officials said, “Our employees deserve good contracts and they deserve them now. Our offers would result in wage increases worth well over $125 million and good benefits.”

The statement listed highlight of its offer to service workers as:

Wage increases of more than 26 percent for patient care employees over the next five years, totaling $127 million.

Increases in minimum hourly rates for service employees from $10.28 to $11.50 or $12, depending on location.

The university said it already provides excellent health and pension benefits.