University of California Workers Strike for Higher Wages - Higher Education
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University of California Workers Strike for Higher Wages

by Jocelyn Gecker, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Electricians, elevator mechanics, plumbers and other workers walked off the job Wednesday at UCLA to demand higher wages on day one of two planned strikes this week at a pair of University of California campuses.

A 24-hour strike was taking place at UCLA and a similar walkout was planned Thursday at UC San Diego, said Teamsters Local 2010, a union that represents nearly 800 skilled-trades workers at both schools.

Several hundred union members were expected at a rally Wednesday at UCLA.

Contracts for the workers at both schools have already expired and they are striking over the universities’ refusal to negotiate over back wages, the union said in a statement. The workers’ contract at UCLA expired in 2013 and at UCSD in 2015.

Skilled-trades workers at the two schools earn roughly $32 an hour, which is as much as $10 an hour less than what workers in the area are paid for the same jobs, said Teresa Conrow, a union spokeswoman.

The union has warned of possible disruptions and urged the public to reschedule nonessential campus medical appointments and other campus visits during the strike.

UCLA said in a statement that it was “disappointed” by the decision to strike and that it hopes to reach an agreement on a fair and competitive contract in the near future. It said it has a contingency plan to ensure that all hospitals and patient care facilities remain open and fully operational. No major disruptions were reported.

Separately, the statewide contract for 14,000 UC clerical and administrative support workers is due to expire Nov. 30 and the union has threatened “to take strike action if necessary” after the expiration, Teamsters Local 2010 said in a statement.

Support workers were expected to join the UCLA and UCSD strikes during their lunch hour, and also gather during breaks in San Francisco outside a UC Board of Regents meeting taking place Wednesday and Thursday to discuss next year’s budget.

A recent study by Occidental College found that the majority of UC clerical, administrative and support staff face problems like food insecurity and hunger due to low wages. Their average wage is $22.70 per hour, Conrow said.

Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.

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