Thousands of University of California medical center workers won a judge’s ruling allowing most of them to participate in a two-day strike starting today in a dispute over the school system’s pension overhaul.
California state Judge David Brown’s ruling yesterday in Sacramento allows all except certain pharmacists, lab scientists and respiratory therapists to strike, according to his order. More than 120 surgeries have been postponed because of the strike, UC’s Office of the President said in a statement after the ruling was issued.
The California Public Employment Relations Board, acting on a request by the university system, had asked Brown for a court order blocking two unions representing more than 13,000 patient-care technical employees and about 7,000 service workers and 3,300 other UC health professionals from striking.
“PERB has failed to meet its burden to establish that there is a reasonable cause to believe that the unions’ conduct will create a substantial and imminent threat to public health or safety if employees in other classifications” are permitted to strike, Brown said.
UC’s five health systems are an almost $6 billion enterprise that receive 144,000 in-patient admissions annually and provide half of all transplants and one-fourth of extensive burn care in California, according to the UC website.
Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents UC patient-care technical employees, announced May 10 that it was asking members to strike at UC medical centers for two days beginning today.
“We appreciate the injunction and PERB’s complaint, even though both are more limited than what we were seeking, as we believe it’s completely inappropriate to put patients in the middle of a labor dispute and jeopardize essential services to them as a negotiating tactic,” Dwaine Duckett, vice president for systemwide human resources at UC, said in an e-mail. “Leaders of both unions claim their chief concern is patient care, but it’s very simple: if they strike, services to patients suffer.”
The case is PERB v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, 34-2013-00143801, California Superior Court, Sacramento.