Next strike up: UC Medical System

For the first time in months, the strike news isn't about teachers.
It's about the University of California, and it's pretty big.

Thousands of vocational nurses, truck drivers, security guards and other service workers walked off the job at 10 University of California campuses Monday morning, kicking off a planned three-day strike over pay and causing widespread delays in patient care at UC medical centers.
...While university administrators were planning to bring in at least 1,000 replacement employees, sympathy strikes set for Tuesday by the California Nurses Union and the University Professional and Technical Employees were expected to complicate matters. In total, the number of striking employees could reach 53,000.
“Our only option again is to strike,” said Kathryn Lybarger, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, whose 25,000 systemwide workers initiated the action. “We are holding the line on some of the last middle-class jobs in California.”
The AFSCME members represent over 15,000 vocational nurses, respiratory therapists and medical technologists across the UC system as well as more than 9,000 janitors, cooks and security guards.
...Union representatives say they deserve more.
“They’ve been tone deaf to our calls around inequality and stopping the outsourcing,” Lybarger said. “They won’t even say the words inequality and outsourcing.”

53,000 is nothing to sneeze at.
I especially like the sympathy strikes. A little solidarity goes a long ways.

As for the teacher strikes, Republicans are trying to undermine the gains of the teachers now that the strikes are over.

Members of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, an anti-tax group, filed paperwork last week to get a veto referendum on the November ballot. The group has until July 18th to collect about 41,000 signatures. The new taxes to fund the salary increases are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but there’s debate over whether those would need to be put on hold if activists collect enough ballot signatures before that date.
Taking aim at a bill designed to protect children from abuse and neglect, Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell) introduced a last-minute amendment to prevent school districts from automatically deducting union dues from teacher paychecks. Educators instead would need to make other arrangements to handle membership payments. Russ’s amendment would have also mandated that a majority of educators in each school district vote every five years on whether they want to keep their collective bargaining unit; if a majority did not vote in favor, the school district would be stripped of union representation.

Doug Folks, a spokesperson for OEA, told Rewire.News that teachers, police officers, firefighters, and state workers inundated legislators’ phone systems and “in about 18 hours, we were able to get enough promises of no votes that the [amendment] was never heard.” The bill, SB 1150, was approved by lawmakers without the anti-union provisions.

A union-busting revenge bill is sort of what you would expect from Oklahoma conservatives. Unfortunately for Republicans, the teachers are still popular.

The sneakiest way that Republicans are undermining the gains by the teachers is how they will be paid for.

Educators returned to work after the state legislature gave them a 20 percent salary raise over three years and some extra funding for public education.

But there’s a catch: Lawmakers are going to make them and other middle- and working-class Arizonans pay for the raise.

Teachers had wanted legislators to raise business and income taxes on wealthy Arizonans to restore cuts to public education and boost anemic teacher salaries. Republicans gave in to some of the demands for more funding — but they’re not paying for the salary hike with new taxes on the wealthy. Instead, the legislature passed a fee on motorists and shifted most of the cost of desegregating schools from the state to taxpayers in low-income school districts. Those levies will largely hit working- and middle-class taxpayers.

It looks like the next fight will be over tax reform.

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karl pearson's picture

It's so refreshing to see workers organize and demand a decent wage and benefits. The anti-union oligarchs and their think tanks won't be able to stop it either. As income inequality increases, I look for more medical staff, teachers, and public employees to continue these protests in both "red" and "blue" states. Things will really heat up after the U.S. Supreme Court announces their decision this Spring in the Janus case.

Forced union dues from non-members may stop, but as they do whenever their backs are to the wall, unions can be expected to become more militant. This could mean many more public employee strikes, including bus and light rail drivers, sanitation workers, Department of Motor Vehicles clerks, court workers, Caltrans road repair workers and many more.
That would be the end of a long era of labor peace essentially brought about by unions’ political domination. For unions may believe they need to drive ever tougher bargains in order to increase worker loyalty and drive membership up.
Plus, the movement away from compelling payment from those who don’t like what’s being done with their money could spread. There could be new objections to bar association dues, student fees, continuing education for doctors and other professionals and other currently required expenses that have essentially been justified by the same arguments as agency fees.
There could even be more tax resistance on free-speech grounds from persons opposed to government policies.
So Janus, like Friedrichs, is a potential can of worms, a Pandora’s Box whose backers and the Supreme Court may come to regret having opened./blockquote>

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snoopydawg's picture

A few years ago it decided to change how it does business. It fired a lot of doctors and ancillary medical staff, janitors, etc, and now it's outsourcing their business office personal to a company that committed loads of fraud when they tried to collect on people's medical bills. Most of the business office personnel can transfer to this company at their same wages, but they won't receive pensions or any of the other benefits they had at the hospital.

I'm sure you can imagine what happened to their quality of care after they did that. It went from the best hospital in Utah to one where people refuse to go. Moral is in the gutter in every department and the quality of treatment has bottomed out. The saying goes "The Customer Comes First." This is not true. Okay, it's not true in my opinion because if employees are not happy with their jobs then they will reflect their attitude on their patients. I'm speaking from past experience on this. People know when something is going on because their warm and friendly experiences that they know is gone.

Before this started happening the hospital hired a new CEO who got paid millions more than his predecessors. I'm sure that you can guess what is going to happen. Once the assets are stripped down as far as they can go the hospital will be sold. Everyone knows that this is coming, but what can they do? There aren't enough hospitals in the area to hire that number of people.

One reason the nurses are striking is because the UC system wants to privatize non patient care staff. Joe has an article in tonight's EBs about the university of Tennessee trying to privatize a lot of positions. The democrats abandoned unions and the union leaders sold themselves out and we are witnessing the end game.

One good thing that is happening in Utah is that a lot of cities are giving raises to teachers. I don't know if there is as big a push for charter schools here or not, but it's good to see them not vilifying teachers here.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Alphalop's picture

Spread and everything will eventually shatter & fall through their fingers.

The only real question is will we survive it?

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"I used to vote Republican & Democrat, I also used to shit my pants. Eventually I got smart enough to stop doing both things." -Me