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Workers Strike At UC Hospitals, Campuses Over Safe Staffing Issues

WESTWOOD ( — Workers at all University of California hospitals and nine UC campuses walked off the job Wednesday over safe staffing issues.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, the union representing 22,000 patient care and service employees, is calling for the one-day walkout at hospitals in San Francisco, San Diego, Davis, Irvine and Los Angeles.

The Strike stems from a coordinated campaign of illegal intimidation and harassment from UC Administrators against frontline service and patient care workers advocating safe staffing standards during a two day UC Hospital Strike in May, the union said.

"They have been tone deaf at the table about safety and staffing," said AFSCME President Kathryn Lybarger. "This is about money for them. This is about safety for us."

Employees have also been fighting over changes to their pension.

Locally, the UCLA and UC Irvine medical centers will remain open, but have canceled many elective surgeries.

Overnight, a judge issued an injunction that will prevent critical care workers from walking out while hundreds of replacement workers will fill in for those on strike.

"We need these things resolved. We can't have it where every six months, people out, marching around the streets, claiming that its unsafe, which is just not true,"  Dr. Tom Rosenthal, the chief medical officer for the UCLA Hospital System, said.

The cost of the strike is expected to cost UCLA $2.5 million alone.

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this strike may cause our patients and their families and friends. However, every effort is being made to ensure that the hospitals and clinics that are part of the UCLA Health System remain open and continue to deliver the highest level of patient care," Dr. Rosenthal said.

Patient care facilities in the UCLA Hospital System that could be affected include Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica; UCLA's Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital; the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA; and community and outpatient clinics.

A bargaining session between the union and UC system leaders has been set for December.


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