San Diego

Surgeries Postponed at 2 UC Hospitals as Union Employees Threaten Strike

Thousands of workers employed by the University of California are poised to go on strike for three days beginning on Monday.

News of the possible strike has forced the two UC hospitals in San Diego to postpone non-emergency procedures.

The strike is planned by workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union. It includes patient care workers at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla. It also includes service workers at the campus of UC San Diego.

The medical employees include surgical and radiation techs, and licensed vocational nurses.

Ruth Zolayvar is a pharmaceutical tech and 16-year union member who prepares IV’s and injections for patients at Jacobs Medical Center.

“This strike is all about inequality at UC with respect to our income, gender and race,” said Zolayvar.

A union rep says there is no offer on the table because no one is at the table. The union says workers are seeking close to a 6-percent pay raise every year for the next four years. But he says the real issue is growing inequality among workers.

The hospital workers have been working without a contract since last December. The service workers have been without a contract since last July.

A UC spokesperson countered by saying it offers a robust benefit and pension package, and called the environment “very fluid”.

“There are still bargaining sessions on the horizon, so the pending strike could come to a resolution,” said Jacqueline Carr, Assistant Executive Director of Communications at UC San Diego Health

UC San Diego Health released this statement:

"The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has scheduled a statewide strike from May 7-9, affecting the University of California and its health systems. Supporting the strike in sympathy will be the University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE) and California Nurses Association (CNA) from May 8-9.

Patient care will be temporarily impacted. Elective surgical cases, in the short-term, may be rescheduled. At the appropriate time, our emergency and trauma departments may be put on bypass.

Patients who may be affected by the strike will be contacted by our patient care teams. We apologize in advance to our patients and their families who may be impacted.

UC San Diego Health’s first priority, now and always, is to provide our patients with safe, high-quality medical and surgical care. We serve many of the region’s sickest and most fragile patients. It is a responsibility we embrace seriously and completely."

Other workers planning to strike include service workers on the campus of UC San Diego.

Angela Velasquez is a lead custodian and a 16-year union member. She says she earns about $41,000 dollars a year.

“It is very difficult, mostly when we have a lot of single mothers and a lot of single fathers who take care of their children by themselves,” said Velasquez.

Bobby Smith is a senior storekeeper with UC Housing Services.

“It’s a shame that it takes us to go on strike to get something solved. We should be able to come to an understanding with the wages, the future of everybody. It hurts everybody,” said Smith.

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