About 13,000 patient-care workers at the University of California’s five medical centers, including a site in San Francisco, held a one-day strike Wednesday over allegations that the UC system has engaged in unfair labor practices.
About 8,300 service workers at UC campuses statewide are also striking, according to Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents both groups of employees.
Graduate student instructors and other UC academic employees who belong to United Auto Workers Local 2865 are also participating in the strike.
Stenhouse alleged that UC administrators illegally harassed and intimidated service and patient-care workers who went on strike for two days in May.
But UC spokeswoman Shelly Meron denied that the university system engaged in unfair labor practices, stating that it asked employees ahead of time if they were going to honor the strike in May but did so only for planning purposes.
Meron said the state Public Employee Relations Board is investigating the union’s allegations but hasn’t made any rulings and won’t even have any hearings on the matter until March.
She said the strike was “definitely disruptive” and some elective surgeries and other procedures were canceled. Among the patient-care technical workers who participated in the strike are radiation therapists who treat cancer patients, pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists, and technicians who operate equipment for ultrasound tests, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and mammograms.
Stenhouse said the strike “is going beyond my wildest expectations” because thousands of employees are participating in picket lines even though it’s raining across the state.
The university and the union have been in negotiations for a new contract for 18 months. Among the sticking points are retirement benefits, wages, staffing levels and worker safety.