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California To Seek Court Order To Keep Key UC San Diego Hospital Workers From Striking

LA JOLLA (CNS) - The state of California will seek a court order on Monday to prevent some key unionized hospital workers at UC San Diego from striking on Tuesday, it was reported today.

UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

Above: UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest.

About 30,000 workers at five University of California health centers are targeting Tuesday as they day they will either walk out or honor picket lines in the dispute over proposed changes in pension plans, and demands for higher pay and increased staffing.

The California Public Employment Relations Board will ask for an injunction to order 400 key employees to cross picket lines, which are expected at the La Jolla-area UC hospital, as well as at UC campuses at Irvine, Los Angeles, Davis and San Francisco. The court action was reported in the Sacramento Business Journal.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local 3299 announced last week that its roughly 13,000 patient care technical workers plan to conduct a two-day strike beginning Tuesday. Health care workers represented by University Professional and Technical Employees, or UPTE, a unit of Communication Workers of America, said they plan to honor the strike and will not cross the picket lines on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the unions said they have identified their own set of key workers who will be told to cross picket lines to ensure patient safety.

"UPTE has sent notice to the university so that they can take the necessary steps to ensure patient safety during the strike,'' Jelger Kalmijn, UPTE president, said last week. "We have identified essential personnel during the strike action so that no patient care will be endangered.''

UC officials have insisted that they have offered a fair wage and benefit proposal, and they hoped to obtain a court order blocking next week's strike, claiming the walkout would "pose an imminent threat to public health and safety'' and prevent the public from receiving health care.

UC's senior vice president for health sciences and services, Dr. John Strobo, will hold a news conference in Oakland on Monday to discuss potential strike impacts.

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