Here’s Why More Than 50,000 University Of California Employees Are Striking This Week

More than 50,000 University of California (UC) workers began a three-day strike Monday against growing income disparity at their respective school, union leaders said. Workers are asking for equal pay across all labor sectors, citing an internal union research document that shows women and minorities in the university system earning less than white men. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 is leading the strike with 25,000. They will be joined by two other unions, the California Nurses Association, 14,000 employees, and the University Professional & Technical Employees, 15,000 employees, which have approved sympathy strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday in solidarity with the UC strike.

The strike will impact University of California’s 10 campuses and five medical centers, however, they will remain open.

The employees are striking after the union and the university failed to make an agreement on wage increases, healthcare premiums and retirement terms.

“The big picture here is that there’s growing inequality at the University of California, and we’re going out because they have not even attempted to address it,” Kathryn Lybarger, AFSCME Local 3299 President told NBC News.

According to an internal union study, Latino and Black AFSCME patient care workers are paid more than $4 less per hour than white males.

AFSCME is calling for a new multiyear contract with an annual wage increase of 6 percent, no increase in healthcare premiums and a continued retirement age of 60 to qualify for full pension benefits.

While UC denies pay discrimination, last month the school chose to give workers a 2 percent raise without the consent of the union.

“A strike is only hurting the union’s own members who will lose pay for joining this ill-advised three-day walkout, while negatively affecting services to patients and students,” the spokesperson told NBC News. “A disruptive demonstration will change neither UC’s economic situation nor the university’s position on AFSCME’s unreasonable demands.”

Some UC students are showing solidarity for the strike by not participating in any school sponsored events.

Custodians, gardeners, cooks, truck drivers, lab technicians and nurse aides are among the 50,000 that are striking this week. They hope that with student support, the UC system will see that importance of the strike and the need to improve wages and benefits.

This is a developing story follow mitú for updates.

READ: Thousands Of People Marched For A $15 Minimum Wage Today

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