UC Medical Center Union Workers on Strike

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    NBC Bay Area
    About 13,000 union workers at five University of California medical centers, including the one in San Francisco, went on a two-day strike Tuesday morning.

    About 13,000 union workers at five University of California  medical centers, including the one in San Francisco, went on a two-day strike Tuesday morning.

    Randall Johnson, an MRI technologist at UCSF, said employees are  staging the work action over staffing levels, contracting out, pension  contributions and other issues.

    "We've been in negotiations for over a year and there's been no  major movement on the core issues so we're at an impasse," Johnson said on Monday.

    Johnson said members of American Federation of State, County and  Municipal Employees Local 3299 are leading the two-day strike and will be  supported by members of the University Professional and Technical Employees  union.

    In addition to UCSF, the strike will take place at UC medical  centers at San Diego, Irvine, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, where the UC Davis  Medical Center is located.

    Dr. John Stobo, the UC system's senior vice president for health  sciences and services, said the university estimates that the strike will  cost $20 million, which he said means that "there will be fewer dollars to  support the education of medical students and residents to support programs  to improve medical care."

    Stobo said, "The real impact is the safety of our patients and  we've had to cancel a significant number of surgeries" because of the strike.

    Dr. Joshua Adler, the chief medical officer at UCSF, said the  strike has forced the hospital to cancel surgery for more than 150 patients,  including cancer patients who were supposed to have chemotherapy and  radiation treatments and five children who were supposed to have congenital  heart surgery.

    Dwaine Duckett, UC's vice president for human resources, said,  "Patients shouldn't be in the middle of a labor dispute."

    Duckett alleged that after contract talks began last June, AFSCME  "made it clear that they were determined to flex their muscles and go on  strike."

    He also alleged that the union has refused to contribute more  money to employees' retirement costs.

    But Johnson said employees don't think they should contribute more  to retirement costs if management doesn't also increase its contributions to  retirement costs.

    Johnson added, "Contracting out jobs to non-union workers and  staffing levels are equally important to us."

    A Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued an injunction  Monday that limits the scope of the strike but said it could take place.