The Teamsters union, which represents UC clerical staff, is calling upon its membership to participate in a one-day strike in January 2017. It is important that Teamsters-represented employees understand what UC has been offering at the bargaining table, and make an informed choice about whether to support a strike.

Contract negotiations

Q. What is UC offering clerical staff?

A. UC’s latest offer is a multi-year contract spanning six fiscal years that would give clerical employees a total pay increase of 18 percent by the end of the contract (3 percent increase each year, comprised of across-the-board and performance-based increases). Our proposal also includes affordable health benefits, retirement benefit options that offer a choice between a traditional (defined benefit) pension plan and a 401(k)-style (defined contribution) plan, and good working conditions. We believe our proposal fairly compensates clerical employees for their skills and hard work, and is also financially responsible for the university.

Q. What wage increases have clerical staff received recently?

A. Clerical employees received a 22.5 percent wage increase under the last five-year contract.

Q. How does my pay compare with other clerical workers outside of UC?

A. UC clerical employees are currently paid wages that are market competitive. This is based on market studies that the university routinely conducts to ensure that we fairly compensate our employees, and continue to be able to recruit and retain a quality workforce. UC’s latest contract proposal includes a total pay increase of 18 percent over the life of the contract, which spans six fiscal years. These proposed wage increases will ensure that UC clerical employees remain market competitive, and are consistent with increases given to other represented and non-represented employees.

In addition to wages, clerical employees receive quality healthcare benefits and excellent retirement benefits as part of their total compensation. Many private employers no longer offer their employees a pension program or retiree healthcare benefits; UC continues to offer both.

Union call for a one-day strike

Q. The union is calling for a one-day strike in January. Is this legal?

A. Under California law, strikes conducted before the completion of the full bargaining process, including impasse and fact-finding procedures, are considered potentially unlawful. Therefore, since UC and the Teamsters have not completed bargaining, we believe such a strike would be premature and potentially unlawful. 

Q. The Teamsters say the basis for the strike is due to unfair labor practices by the university. Is this true?

A. For the past six months, UC has bargained in good faith with the goal of reaching a fair contract for clerical employees. We believe that the Teamsters’ call for a strike isn’t about unfair labor practices, but rather it is a negotiating tactic. Unfortunately, strikes don’t bring two sides closer together. It is our firm belief that the best avenue toward resolving our differences is through negotiation and compromise at the bargaining table.

Coming to work during a strike

Q. Will I be barred from coming to work during a strike?

A. No. Under the law, you’re free to cross a picket line and come to work.

Q. If I'm in the union, am I obligated to strike? Can the union penalize me for not striking?

A. No employee is ever obligated to strike. Unions are legally prohibited from threatening or coercing members in other ways to keep them from coming to work. Some unions can fine dues-paying members (but not nonmembers) for working during a strike. A union member who does not want to strike may contact her/his union to confirm there will not be fines. UC won’t deduct fines from employees’ paychecks.

Q. My manager asked me if I plan to work my scheduled shift when the Teamsters hold a strike. Do I have to answer?

A. Employees are free to decide whether or not to answer this question. The reason we are asking if you will work your shift is because we are committed to ensuring that campuses and medical centers continue to serve students and patients during a strike and we need to prepare accordingly. Knowing whether we will need to hire temporary replacement staff during a strike is part of these preparations.

Q. If I don’t answer or if I say I don’t plan to work during the strike, will I be penalized?

A. No. You can be assured there will be no retaliation for how you answer or if you decide not to. 

Q. Will UC inform my union about whether I plan to work during the strike?

A. No. Employee responses will not be shared with the unions.

Q. What if I want to work but I’m being blocked or confronted by picketers or striking workers?

A. UC will assist employees who want to work by providing security or transportation across picket lines. Non-striking employees should avoid confrontations and should not invite or engage in any exchanges, which might inflame the situation. If an employee feels s/he is being harassed or prevented from working by picketers or striking employees, the employee should notify their supervisor or campus labor relations office immediately.

Impacts of striking on employee pay, benefits and/or work

Q. If I come to work during a strike, what pay and benefits will I receive?

A. If you come to work, you will receive the same pay and benefits as you normally do.

Q. If I strike, will I lose pay and benefits?

A. You will not be paid for time lost due to participating in a strike. Benefits that are affected by the percentage of time worked during the month may be affected.
Q. Will I lose pay if I’m simply absent from work during the strike?

A. If any employee does not report to work as assigned, UC will presume — absent prior authorization or medical certification — that her/his work absence during a strike period is strike related. Employees who are absent from work without authorization during a strike will not be paid for the absence. As is always the case, authorization for an absence from work (e.g., vacation leave or compensatory time) may or may not be granted, depending on operational necessity and without regard to the employee's reason for the requested leave.