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UC's Largest Union Begins 3-Day Labor Strike Vote

BERKELEY (KCBS) — The union representing more than 22,000 University of California workers kicked off a three-day strike vote on Monday, with pensions and workers' rights being the main issues.

UC has been in negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 for more than a year. Spokeswoman Dianne Klein said they imposed a contract a month ago that gave Local 3299 members a raise, but the sticking point has been pension reform.

UC's Largest Union In 3-Day Labor Strike Vote; Claims 'Bullying' Is Issue

"We instituted pension reform in 2010 basically so that everyone would have a pension to draw upon when they reach retirement age. That's what it's about," Klein said.

New talks are scheduled for the first week in November.

Union President Kathryn Lybarger, who is also a lead gardener at UC Berkeley, said it is not about pensions, but that it's about what she called bullying.

"There's been one grown up at the table frankly; that's us. We have offered compromise. It's good that we're going back to the table, but what this is about though is that when we stood up for safe staffing, when we've said that tuition at the university needs to go down, you know, for standing up for those things, we got harassed," she said.

AFSCME represents gardeners and maintenance workers, along with support staff and medical workers at the UC hospitals.

Results of the vote are expected by Friday.

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