Briefs AFSCME

Published on March 20th, 2014 | by Zamná Ávila

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UC Patient Care Workers Authorize and Announce Five Day Strike

OAKLAND — On March 14, the University of California’s 13,000 Patient Care Technical Workers, represented by AFSCME 3299, announced that they voted 97 percent in support of authorizing an Unfair Labor Practice Strike and informed the University of their intent to strike March 24 through 28.

The strike stems from growing incidents of illegal, bad faith bargaining by university administrators. This includes unilateral implementation of contract terms and benefit cuts, and the university’s 11th hour demands for sweeping new layoff powers, which could leave UC Health facilities short-staffed and patients vulnerable in the event of medical emergencies.

AFSCME 3299 has filed unfair labor practice charges detailing each of the violations with the Public Employment Relations Board.

Read the charges herehere and here, and the strike notice letter here.

Though UC has repeatedly suggested that financial constraints are contributing to its collective bargaining practices [1], UC Hospitals netted more than $632 million in operating profit this past year. [2] Since 2009, annual hospital administration payroll costs at UC have swelled by more than $100 million, equivalent to an increase of 38 percent. [3]

Two UC Hospital CEOs (Mark Laret of UCSF, and Ann Madden Rice of UC Davis) just made the Becker’s Hospital Review list of CEOs of the top 25 highest grossing “non-profit” Hospitals [4], each receiving more than a million dollars in compensation. Laret’s arrangement, in particular, includes six figure cash bonuses tied to profit goals. [5]

This is the second ULP strike by AFSCME 3299 represented Patient Care Technical Workers in the last six months. The first, back on Nov. 20, 2013, was in response to a well documented campaign of illegal coercion and intimidation by UC Administrators against Patient Care workers who had voiced concerns on issues of patient safety at UC Hospitals back in May. That matter is still pending before the state’s Public Employment Relations Board.

The March 24 through 28 strike will impact all five UC Medical Centers—Davis, San Francisco, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego. As was the case with previous hospital strikes, AFSCME 3299 has voluntarily exempted 49 patient care technical workers from participating in the strike—Respiratory therapists in the pediatric intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care unit and burn units, as well as several hemodialysis technicians. It will be forming a Patient Protection Task Force to handle any emergent medical needs that could arise during the strike.

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