Students and workers displayed signs of support for AFSCME Local 3299 during the public comment period of the UC Regents meeting on Jan. 22. Photo by Elena Neale

Service workers in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 reached a tentative contract agreement with the UC late on Jan. 21 after almost three years without a contract.

The new contract includes wage increases, secure benefits, mechanisms to limit outsourcing to independent contractors and greater opportunities for career advancement for the lowest-wage workers. If and when the union members approve it, the agreement will become a formal contract.

“This tentative agreement takes historic, enforceable steps to strengthen middle class career pathways at UC, and to combat the outsourcing abuses that have only served to depress wages, erode benefits and increase inequality,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in a press release. “Equally important, it provides UC’s lowest wage workers with a long overdue raise, affordable healthcare rates, and a secure retirement.”

Service, patient care and technical workers across the UC system conducted multiple strikes over the last two years demanding increased wages, benefits and protections. AFSCME Local 3299 workers at UCLA were even successful at relocating a Democratic presidential debate from the campus to Loyola Marymount University in December due to strike activities.

AFSCME Local 3299 patient care workers have also been working without a contract since 2017. They have yet to reach an agreement with the UC, though bargaining is set to continue throughout this week.

So far, UC negotiators have demanded patient care workers give up their right to speak out if the UC fails to abide by its agreement, Lybarger said at a UC Regents meeting on Jan. 22.

“It is now time for UC to provide its AFSCME represented Patient Care workers with an equally fair agreement that honors our members’ contributions to UC’s highly profitable health system,” Lybarger said in the press release.