The State Worker

UC medical centers bracing for employee strike, employee relations board to seek court intervention

With front-line patient-care workers set to go on strike Wednesday, University of California officials said today that a walkout would postpone surgeries, upend cancer treatments and delay everything from emergency care to simple lab-test results.

Meanwhile, the Public Employment Relations Board has said it will seek a temporary restraining order on the union planning the one-day strike, AFSCME Local 3299, to limit the number of workers who can participate.

PERB will ask for the order in Sacramento County Superior Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, according to a UC press release. The request will focus on “employees working in critical health and safety roles that are difficult to replace.”

The union represents roughly 21,000 UC employees, many of them front-line caregivers. AFSCME leaders called the strike in response to what the union claims was a systematic pattern of illegal intimidation against members who participated in a two-day walkout in May. The spring strike came eight months after the union’s contract expired and the failure of stop-and-start negotiations.

AFSCME says it is fighting a system that allows administrators to enrich themselves while demanding union concessions and mismanaging the UC’s five hospitals. University administrators say the union is posturing and that its real agenda is to avoid the pension changes already accepted by other UC unions. Earlier this year it imposed terms on the union after negotiations reached impasse.