25 Arrested At UCLA Protest
Posted by Alex Mazariegos on Jul 30, 2013 - 3:09:50 PM
WESTWOOD—Prolonged negotiations between the University of California and the union organization AFSCME 3299 culminated into full on public demonstration when dozens of health care workers and supporters staged a protest on July 26, ending only when LAPD officers arrested about 25 protesters.
Protesters dedicated to a sit-in.
The formal sit-in occurred around 2:30 p.m., as some protesters formed a circle and sat down on the intersection of Westwood and Wilshire Boulevards; fellow supporters littered the sidewalks around the circle group. Consequently, the intersection was closed and traffic was backed up during congested hours.
Officers ordered the crowd to disperse at around 4:00 p.m. Though most complied with the request, some within the intersection chose not to leave their posts. LAPD officers then began the arrests, which commenced under declarations of unlawful assembly.
Protesters were demonstrating against stalled contract negotiations for about 12,000 of the university system's health care workers. Amidst contract disputes, the university decided to enable its last contract offer without reaching a settlement with the union.
“Having completed all stages of the bargaining process, including state-assisted mediation and fact finding, the university is legally entitled to implement its last proposal. We would have preferred to reach a settlement, but this implementation provides our patient care staff with fair wage increases and good benefits now, rather than forcing them to continue waiting through stalled negotiations,” said Dwaine Duckett, the
California's Vice President for System Wide Human Resources and Programs in a press release on July 24.
Eight other unions, representing 14 labor units, have already accepted the reform, according to the vice president. He further accused AFSCME 3299 of negotiating for a “special deal.”
Changes implemented include a 2 percent wage increase for eligible employees on July 1, a guaranteed wage increase of 1.5 percent on the first of October (in addition to previous wage increases in the last two years), a paid time off program that combines vacation days and sick leave into one leave bank, and increased pension contribution rates for workers.
State Senator Ted Lieu with protesters.
“For more than a year, our members have led the fight against the dangerous and reckless priorities of top UC Administrators---chronically understaffed public hospitals, skyrocketing student tuition, and outrageous executive entitlements,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger in response on July 25. “While AFSCME 3299 has negotiated in good faith and offered meaningful compromise, UC has chosen to hold the health and aspirations of millions of Californians hostage over its insistence on $300,000/year public pensions for its highest paid employees. We view this as a full frontal assault—not just on the collective bargaining process and the frontline workers at the backbone of the UC system--but on the students, patients, and taxpayers this system is supposed to serve.”
Counted among the protesters was state senator Ted Lieu, who attached the included photo on his Twitter account. The senator was not amid those arrested.
He tweeted, “Marching down Westwood with #AFSCME Local 3299. Fighting for a fair contract.”