University of California's lowest-paid workers have ratified a three-year contract that includes wage increases and settles other long-standing issues, including additional opportunity for advancement.

The contract establishes a $9-an-hour minimum wage that will affect 600 employees, provides guaranteed raises for the lowest paid workers and includes a 10 percent wage increase for everyone during the life of the agreement, according to information released Monday by the workers' union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Other aspects of the contract include free meals, higher premium pay for nights and weekends and better advancement opportunities, including three days of paid training and more promotions, the union said.

The contract was ratified by 87 percent of the vote. The union represents 7,300 janitors, cooks and other service workers at UC's campuses and medical centers. The contract expires Jan. 31, 2008.

, ends several months of contentious contract negotiations. In April, the workers staged a one-day, statewide strike over stalled negotiations.


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