UC Hospital Strike Averted After Last-Minute Talks Produce Tentative Contract
Sunday, March 23, 2014
A potential strike by 13,000 workers at UC hospitals statewide has been averted, as marathon contract talks over the weekend produced a new tentative contract Sunday.
Hospitals at UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UCLA, among others, had been preparing for a walkout by patient care technical workers on Monday.
The proposed four-year contract was hailed as offering "fair wage increases, secure benefits and staffing protections, as well as the University's top priority if pension reform,'' according to a union statement.
Patient care technical workers perform MRIs and similar procedures, and had voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike , according to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299. That was prompted by UC's decision last summer to impose new contract terms that included "sweeping new layoff powers,'' according to a union official.
Picket lines were planned to go up at 7 a.m. Monday, and hospital officials were planning to use other workers and administrators to keep the doors open. Many UC hospitals in California operate insurance plans and also provide general hospital services under contracts with counties, in addition to teaching duties.
"This proposed agreement reflects compromise on both sides, improves safety in UC hospitals, and honors the important contributions to patient care technical workers,'' said Kathryn Lybarger, president of the AFSCME Local 3299.
A statement from UC's Office of the president concurred: "There was true compromise by both sides... This ends two years of very challenging negotiations.''
The local represents 22,000 workers in the UC system, and is the universities' largest union.
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