Union workers at the University of California Santa Cruz are calling their three day strike a success. Thousands of workers participated in the statewide walkout at UC campuses after contract negotiations failed over a year ago.
About 150 UC Santa Cruz employees and students chanted and marched in front of the main entrance to the school Wednesday. They wore green T-shirts and held signs that read, “Equality, Fairness, Respect.”
The three-day strike wrapped up Wednesday, but not before disrupting life on campus. The walkout shut down the school’s shuttle system, led to less staff in the dining halls and health services, and canceled some classes.
Student Subrina Doeut says the protest canceled two of her classes.
“I'm paying for my classes. I go to my classes every day and it kind of sucks when teachers are like, ‘oh, because of the protests, we will cancel class,’” Doeut says.
The workers who protested are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, or AFSCME. The union represents service employees in UC schools and medical centers, including nurse aids, cooks and security guards. The union wants a six percent pay increase and more job advancement opportunities for people of color.
Nicolas Gutierrez is a senior custodian at UC Santa Cruz. He’s been working at the university for 23 years.
“We're not just fighting for money or for stuff like that. We're truly fighting for our future, for our right to be able to retire with dignity and respect,” Gutierrez says.
Gutierrez calls the walkout a success. It’s a different perspective from the University of California system. Claire Doan is the UC spokesperson.
“In our view, if AFSCME’s leaders were serious about an agreement, they'd be at the table right now instead of striking, using patient care as negotiating leverage,” said Doan.
Doan says UC is open to continuing negotiations on the union contracts.