By Daniel Zarchy, Devin Dunlevy and Jenny Cain
City on a Hill Press Co-Editor in Chief, City on a Hill Press Reporters

The labor union representing UC workers won a better contract from the state, including annual raises over the next five years, both sides announced Wednesday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 (AFSCME), which represents over 20,000 UC employees at the 10 campuses and five medical centers, has been negotiating for the last 18 months for a better contract for over 8,000 service employees.

The new contract guarantees annual raises of 4 percent in July and 3 percent each year for the next four years. This would amount to $14 per hour by the end of the contract, in early 2012, according to the union.

UC’s 11,000 patient care employees, also a part of AFSCME, won a contract last October, totalling $127 million over five years.

"After a year and half of negotiations, this is truly a historic day," Lakesha Harrison, president of AFSCME 3299, said in a press release Wednesday. "We have gone on strike, held informational pickets, lobbied, ran television commercials and many other things that were key to get UC executives to do the right thing and readjust their priorities from executives to the lowest-paid workers at UC."

The announcement came in the middle of Raising Awareness Week, just one day after approximately 100 people picketed at Quarry Plaza on Tuesday fighting for higher union wages. Raising Awareness Week was aimed at informing the campus community about the fight for a fair contract while fostering solidarity between students and workers.

Though the contract still needs to be ratified by the rank-and-file union members next month, both sides seem pleased with the tentative agreement.

"We’re all happy, everybody’s happy," said Rosario Cort