San Diego

Statewide Labor Strike Affects 5 UC Medical Centers

UC San Diego said all hospitals in clinics will remain open throughout the strike activity

What to Know

  • The contract has been under negotiation for more than a year
  • AFSCME represents security guards, truck drivers, custodians, nursing aides, surgical technicians and respiratory therapists.
  • The California Nurses Association has come out in support of the strike

Hundreds of healthcare union workers were on the picket lines Monday, affecting some services at five UC medical centers including UC San Diego Health.

A three-day strike was underway as some union employees across the UC system are negotiating a new contract. 

The statewide strike is scheduled through Wednesday if a deal is not reached, with some unions participating in what are described as sympathy strikes.

UC San Diego Medical Center and four other UC medical facilities in San Diego are open and serving patients despite the strike.

A group of about 200 stationed themselves on the campus of the Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla at about 6 a.m. Monday and started marching and chanting slogans like, "Whose university? Our university" and "No justice, no peace."

"I want to see if they can do what we do for a week and they can survive with the check we get," said Karla Williams, a UC Environmental Services employee. We just want equal treatment. We all deserve to be treated the same."

To reduce the impact of the strike on patient care, hospital administrators entered a "bypass" mode, meaning emergency calls may be sent to other nearby hospitals. Some patients have been asked to postpone surgeries and appointments.

"Patients who may be affected by the strike will be contacted by our patient care teams," UC San Diego Health Assistant Executive Director of Communications Jacqueline Carr said Sunday via email. "We apologize in advance to our patients and their families who may be impacted."

Leaders at UC San Diego are not addressing the union negotiations. A spokesperson told NBC 7 the negotiations don’t happen locally but rather at the state level.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) scheduled the strike.

The union's 24,000 patient-care and service workers voted to authorize a strike after rejecting a proposal from the University system for a 3 percent annual pay increase over each of the next four years as well as reductions in the cost of benefits.

AFSCME spokesman John de los Angeles said the union wants the university to stop its outsourcing practices and address what it describes as widening income, racial and gender gaps for service workers.

UC spokeswoman Claire Doan said AFSCME service workers are already paid at or above market rates and that the union is demanding a nearly 20 percent pay raise over three years.

Strikers gathered at sunrise Monday on the 10 campuses throughout the state, wearing green t-shirts and carrying signs that call for "equality, fairness, respect." 

The California Nurses Association is expected to join the strike tomorrow though some replacement nurses have been hired and the union says they will have volunteers standing by to go back to work if there’s any kind of emergency requiring their help.

UC San Diego said all hospitals and clinics will remain open throughout the strike activity. They suggest patients allow extra time for parking if they have appointments in Hillcrest or La Jolla. There may be changes to lab services. Click here for current schedules. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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