Dear colleague:

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I am writing to let you know that UC is increasing your wages and providing you and your service worker colleagues with good health and retirement benefits.

As we informed you, we recently presented AFSCME with a final settlement offer that included:

  • Guaranteed 3 percent across-the-board wage increases every year for the next four years.
  • A one-time payment of $750 (prorated by appointment percentage) for every non-probationary, career service employee, once a contract is ratified;
  • Excellent health and retirement benefits at the same rates as other UC employees with similar salaries. UC also proposed a limit of $25 per month on health insurance premium increases for service employees in UC’s Kaiser and HealthNet Blue & Gold plans. A typical service employee would pay just $34 a month for Kaiser for themselves and their children.

This offer is very similar to what UC has given many of your UC colleagues, including those in other unions. Unfortunately, AFSCME rejected this offer.

We believe negotiations with AFSCME have taken much longer than they should, and it has been too long since you have received a raise. Accordingly, we are implementing the following for all UC service workers:

  • Wage increase: A 2 percent pay increase. Overall compensation for UC service staff is currently above market and this pay increase helps ensure salaries for our service staff remain market-competitive.
  • Health benefits: Low-cost, high-value health benefits at the same rates as other UC employees with similar salaries;
  • Retirement benefits: You will see no change in your pension benefits. Future service employees will have a choice between UC’s pension plan or a 401(k)-style plan, whichever plan they think is best for them.

The pay increase is a one-time increase, and the rates for healthcare benefits reflect 2017-18 fiscal year rates. At some point, UC and AFSCME will need to return to the bargaining table in order to negotiate any additional increases as part of a multi-year contract.

You may be wondering why we are not implementing the raises, the limit on health insurance costs, and the one-time payment we recently offered AFSCME at the bargaining table. Our final settlement offer was in exchange for a multi-year contract, and to finally bring negotiations to an end. We believe it was a very fair offer, and we are disappointed AFSCME did not accept it. 

Lastly, AFSCME leaders have asked you and your co-workers, including patient care staff, to authorize a strike, where you will actually lose pay for the days you are out. As I stated in my previous letter, striking is very serious and we strongly disagree with AFSCME’s decision to impact patients, students and the UC community with a potential strike as a negotiating tactic.

Last week I shared with you important information about striking, and I have attached it again to this letter. Please read it carefully and be sure you understand the implications of striking, and decide for yourself if you think a strike is the right thing to do.

As always, thank you for everything you do for the university and the people we serve.


Dwaine B. Duckett

Vice President, UC Systemwide Human Resources

Important information for UC employees about an AFSCME strike vote

AFSCME, the union representing UC’s patient care and service employees, has asked service and patient care employees to authorize union leaders to call a strike against UC. In UC’s view, strikes unfairly impact patients, students and employees, and should not be used as a negotiating tactic. It is very important that all AFSCME-represented employees understand the implications of a strike, and make an informed choice about whether or not to support a strike. Below are answers to important questions.

Coming to work during a strike; employee absences and loss of pay/benefits during a strike

Q. As an AFSCME-represented employee, am I obligated to strike? Can I be penalized by the union for not striking?
A. No employee is ever under any obligation to strike. Unions are legally prohibited from threatening or coercing members in other ways to keep them from coming to work. However, some unions have the right to levy fines against members, but not non-members, who choose to work during a strike, including a sympathy strike. A union member who does not wish to strike may want to contact her/his local union representative to confirm there will not be fines. Even if the union does levy fines, UC will not deduct union fines from employees’ paychecks.

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 compensation and benefits as you normally do.

Q. If I don't come to work as a result of the strike, will I continue to receive my pay and benefits? May I use compensatory time or vacation for the time I miss?
A. Employees will not be paid for time lost due to participating in a strike. Employees who participate in a strike will not be allowed to use compensatory time or vacation leave to make up for the pay they lose because of striking. Benefits that are affected by the percentage of time worked during the month may be affected.

Q. Will I lose pay for participating in a strike?
A. If any employee does not report to work as assigned, UC will presume — absent prior authorization or medical certification — that her/his absence from work during a declared 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) may or may not be granted, depending on operational necessity and without regard to the employee's reason for the requested leave.

Legality of an ASCME service worker strike, and participation by non-service employees

Q. Is it legal for AFSCME to strike?
A. State law requires that strikes be considered only as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. UC does not believe AFSCME has, in good faith, exhausted all options. However, because UC and AFSCME have completed all legally required impasse and factfinding procedures regarding service workers, UC has a legal right to implement the terms (wages, benefits, etc.) of its final offer to the union, and AFSCME has the right to call for a strike by service employees. AFSCME has asked patient care employees to strike “in sympathy” with service employees, even though AFSCME and UC have not concluded bargaining over the patient care employees’ contract. However, just because both sides have these legal rights, it doesn’t mean they should be exercised. Ultimately, UC and AFSCME must resolve their differences and come to an agreement. Striking may only delay an agreement.

Q. Is it legal for AFSCME-represented patient care employees, and employees represented by other unions like CNA and UPTE, to join in the AFSCME service worker strike?
A. Striking is a serious matter, especially when it affects vital public services like patient care. Strikes that pose a substantial and imminent threat to public health or safety are illegal under state law. UC believes it would be considered illegal for certain nurses, AFSCME-represented patient care staff, or UPTE-represented healthcare employees to strike in sympathy with service workers because it would pose an imminent threat to public health and safety and improperly withhold health care from the public.

Q. If I am not a service worker and I strike in sympathy with AFSCME, will I continue to receive my pay and benefits? May I use compensatory or vacation time for the time I miss?
A. Employees who participate in a sympathy strike will not be paid for time lost and may not use compensatory time or vacation leave to make up for the pay they lose because of striking. Benefits that are affected by the percentage of time worked during the month may be affected.