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21,000 UC Workers Plan 5-Day Strike

Aired 2/25/14 on KPBS News.

More than 21,000 non-faculty union workers at University of California campuses are threatening to go out on strike next week

Upset over their latest contract offer, more than 21,000 non-faculty union workers at University of California campuses are threatening to go out on strike next week.

The planned five-day strike would affect all UC campuses.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the UC system have been in contract talks for more than a year. Union members include janitors, groundskeepers and food service workers.

UC officials say they’ve offered a healthy pay raise, plus a freeze on healthcare costs and retirement benefits.

Union spokesman Todd Stenhouse said that’s not enough. He explained the union wants better wages and a ban on using outside contractors.

Stenhouse said AFSCME has already caved on 80 percent of UC’s demands, including pension reform.

“UC may say that getting 80 percent of what it wants is not enough. And if that’s what they believe, I suggest that they give John Boehner a call and maybe they can all go bowling,” he said.

John Boehner is the speaker of the House of Representatives. Critics say he's refused to compromise in past budget negotiations with President Obama.

UC officials complain the strike could cost the system $10 million a day.

Some 13,000 patient care workers at UC medical centers, who aren't part of the same bargaining unit as their service worker counterparts, are planning to stage a sympathy strike next week.

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