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UC nurses to hit the picket line with hospital workers

The Michael W. Chapman Emergency and Trauma Center houses the medical center's Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion.
The Michael W. Chapman Emergency and Trauma Center houses the medical center's Surgery and Emergency Services Pavilion. rpench@sacbee.com

The California Nurses Association announced Friday that 14,000 University of California nurses all around the state will strike in sympathy May 7-9 with the 24,000 patient-care and service workers negotiating for wage increases and job security.

CNA represents more than 14,000 RNs at the five major UC medical centers, 10 student health centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They are striking in support of members of ASCME 3299. In its service unit, this union represents 9,000 individuals who work as custodians, groundskeepers, security guards and more. The local's patient-care contract covers 15,000 workers with job descriptions such as respiratory therapists, surgical technicians and nursing aides.

In a news release, UC Davis registered nurse Melissa Johnson-Camacho stated: “UC Davis Medical Center nurses support our fellow UC workers in their demands for a strong contract and justice in the workplace. As nurses we know that in order to provide the safe patient care our communities need we count on our co-workers and they count on us.”

CNA officials said their nurses will join pickets May 8-9 and they expect to also stand with roughly 15,000 other health-care professionals in the University Professional and Technical Employees-CWA. UPTE represents case managers, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers in its health-care unit.

The UPTE-CWA representative did not immediately respond to The Bee's request for confirmation. Both the CNA and UPTE-CWA are also negotiating new contracts with the UC.

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AFSCME 3299 negotiators have sought wage increases of 6 percent, a freeze on health-care premiums and job security that eliminates contracting out jobs for which its members are trained. AFSCME said it estimated that University of California, Davis, alone has spent more than $22 million to hire independent contractors to do work that its membership has done. Independent contractors typically receive lower pay for doing the same work as AFSCME members, AFSCME leaders say, and that depresses the market wages that the UC reviews when it considers wage increases.

Claire Doan, a spokesperson for the University of California Office of the President, said 6 percent raises would be double what the university has given to other employees. She said the university offered 3 percent raises and a pro-rated lump sum payment of $750.

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