The Patient Care Technical (EX) Unit reached a tentative agreement with the UC late on Jan. 27 after about three years of bargaining and six strikes under an expired contract. About 19,000 UC patient care employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 worked without a contract starting Dec. 31, 2017. 

The new patient care contract includes wage increases and restrictions on the university’s ability to outsource jobs.

The contract is similar to the Service (SX) Unit contract reached on Jan. 21, said Kevin Parks, UCSC loop bus driver and member of the service worker bargaining team. The EX and SX units have bargained together over the past three years.

“For the university, it’s more difficult for them to hire and train people, buy equipment and run a workforce, so they tried to outsource it all,” Parks said. “It was very difficult for the workers, we’ve had our hours cut. We see the university growing, growing, growing and yet they keep cutting, cutting, cutting workers. […] Having this in the contract is going to be very helpful for us and gives us security.”

For both the patient care and service workers, limiting outsourcing was nonnegotiable. On Oct. 30, 2019, AFSCME Local 3299 reported the UC’s spending on outsourcing increased 52 percent since 2016, and 84 percent within UC medical centers.

The EX unit is the third AFSCME Local 3299 unit to reach an agreement with the UC in the past week, following the SX and K7 units.

UC Santa Cruz is pleased to see that the University of California reached tentative agreements with both AFSCME service workers and patient care workers,” said UCSC Director of News and Media Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason in an email. “UC Santa Cruz employees work hard, and make valuable contributions to our campus community, and campus leaders are glad both sides were able to reach a tentative deal.”

According to an AFSCME Local 3299 press release, the EX unit members will vote to ratify the agreement on Feb. 4 and 6. The AFSCME Local 3299 bargaining team recommends a “yes” vote.

“This process took a lot of time, political pressure, pressure from students, pressure from workers, pressure from patients,” Parks said. “[…] What I witnessed in the bargaining room was sort of a shared governance idea, where it’s not just the Office of the President who runs the show, but that we are here for the students and the patients and the workers. We aren’t just a branch off to the side, we’re really part of it. In the end, it all came together, which was really, really nice.”