UC hospital workers begin strike May 7: 8 things to know

Tens of thousands union workers from University of California hospitals are expected to begin a strike May 7 amid contract negotiations.

Here are eight things to know.

1. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents UC service workers, scheduled a statewide strike from May 7 to May 9 over issues such as wages and job outsourcing. The University Professional and Technical Employees and California Nurses Association are also slated to strike in sympathy May 8 and May 9.

2. Dwaine Duckett, UC's vice president of human resources, sent a letter to colleagues on May 2, stating the university petitioned the California Public Employment Relations Board and was notified the board would seek a court order on the university's behalf to restrict the number of striking AFSCME-represented healthcare employees. The university requested 618 employees not be able to participate in the strike, and the board granted the request for 551 workers, citing the challenges the medical center would face amid a strike due to limited labor supplies, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Restricted employees include respiratory therapists and certain imaging technicians. Clinical laboratory scientists were not on the no-strike list.

3. Overall, tens of thousands hospital workers across various UC campuses are slated to strike. The Sacramento Bee estimated approximately 53,000 hospital workers will participate in the strike, including 10,000 workers from UC Davis, its campus or its medical center. 

4. Amid the strike, various UC campuses have revealed strike contingency plans.

5. A UC Davis spokesperson told The Sacramento Bee in a statement: "We have a strike management plan in place and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our patients in the face of this short labor strike ... Some same-day surgeries are being handled this week, some procedures are being moved from early next week to later next week, and some are being moved into the following week ... Other impacts of the strike are expected to be the closure of the hospital cafeteria (surrounding restaurants off-campus will be open, patients will still receive meals) and there may be some delays in some trash collections."

6. UC San Diego Health spokesperson Jacqueline Carr told The San Diego Union-Tribune May 6 that a strike command center is expected to be in place early May 7 to ensure safe staffing. Additionally, UC San Diego planned to bring in more than 500 replacement nurses and 900 replacement workers overall, according to that publication. Ms. Carr previously told Becker's Hospital Review UCSD Health was rescheduling some nonurgent, elective surgeries during the strike. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, UCSD officials have rescheduled about 200 elective surgeries total, and hospitals started diverting emergency cases to reduce censuses at hospitals in La Jolla and Hillcrest throughout the strike.

7. At UC San Francisco, the emergency room and clinics will remain open during the strike since the university has brought in temporary staff, reports KRON, noting UCSF is asking that patients with serious needs visit UCSF affiliates such as St. Mary's Medical Center.

8. John de los Angeles, spokesperson for AFSCME 3299, told The Sacramento Bee via email the union has developed a patient protection task force to respond to life-threatening situations as needed.


More articles on human capital and risk:
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Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital workers hold picket amid contract negotiations




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