San Franciscans deserve to know the facts. That is never more certain than when it comes to their health care.
The University of California San Francisco and the other University of California medical centers are in the midst of bargaining with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 on a new contract. We want to conclude another strong contract for our employees so that we can continue to provide the competitive compensation and benefits they are accustomed to in exchange for the outstanding care they provide our patients. But as is too often the case in labor negotiations, truth is becoming a casualty in this pursuit.
An opinion piece that recently ran in this newspaper — signed by the AFSCME union president — is another example of truth being left aside when it is most needed. The opinion piece attacked nurses, doctors and patient-care technicians who deliver world-class patient care at UCSF Medical Center every day.
Our medical center is consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
HealthGrades, a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, recognized UCSF Medical Center for outstanding patient experience and excellence in patient safety — the only hospital in California to lead in both categories. And we’ve achieved a perfect score on the LGBT Healthcare Equality Index for five consecutive years.
UCSF Medical Center is a world-class provider of care. That is not the issue. The real issue at the bargaining table is the reform of UC’s pension system, reform that is necessary to ensure future retirement benefits for all employees.
Eight unions representing 14 other UC bargaining units have agreed to these modest reforms, which also apply to UC faculty and staff not in unions. AFSCME has thus far resisted the reforms, refusing to agree to any changes. Despite the university offering two alternatives to try to move discussions forward, AFSCME has unfortunately rejected them all.
We work hard to provide our employees with wages and benefits that recognize and reward their service to our patients, and by extension to the people of California. These benefits are increasingly expensive, and UC’s modest reforms are essential to the long-term financial stability of our pension benefits. In fact, the pension reforms we are proposing are far less onerous to employees than what Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing for other state employees, and they are more modest than what AFSCME has agreed to in other cities and states. We’re asking the union leaders at AFSCME to work with us on this, just as the union has done elsewhere.
Employees at UCSF Medical Center, including AFSCME members, are contributing to some of the best patient care in the country, and the world. In return, we provide competitive compensation and benefits. To continue to provide world-class care and service, we need thoughtful engagement from the union leadership of AFSCME — the same type of engagement we’ve had from other UC unions.
John Stobo is the senior vice president of UC Health Sciences and Services. Mark Laret is the chief executive officer of the UCSF Medical Center.