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UC System Employees Call for Two-Day Strike

October 14, 2002|Melinda Fulmer | Times Staff Writer

School is out for university teaching assistants, clerical workers and lecturers who have called a two-day strike across the University of California system beginning today.

The strike centers on a labor dispute between the UC system and two unions: the Coalition of University Employees, which represents 18,000 clerical workers, and the American Federation of Teachers, which represents 4,000 lecturers hired to teach classes.

Both groups are renegotiating expired employment contracts. They have accused the university system of not bargaining in good faith and not making certain financial and health benefits information available to them in the process.

A local of the United Auto Workers union, representing nearly 11,000 UC teaching assistants and tutors, said it would support the employees' cause and refuse to cross picket lines.

"We are withholding all of our labor for the two days of the strike," said Zach Fish, a UC Riverside graduate student and financial secretary of UAW Local 2865.

That means no classes led by teaching assistants, no office hours and no grading, Fish said.

The UAW local claims its members perform more than 60% of the face-to-face instruction at the UC system's eight campuses. It will begin negotiating its next contract in April with the university system.

It was unknown Sunday how many members of the university employees union or the teachers union would participate in the walkout.

But a strike could mean empty offices and closed departments for two days while workers in payroll departments, financial aid offices, registrar's offices, student health centers and campus libraries hoist signs in picket lines, said Rita Skinner, an administrative assistant at UC Riverside and member of the strike committee.

"We keep the day-to-day business of the university running," Skinner said. "We are expecting a lot of disruption."

UC officials were not immediately available for comment.

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