Two-Day Strike at UC Medical Centers Could Cost Tens of Millions
A two-day strike by clinical and technical workers at several University of California medical centers could cost the facilities tens of millions of dollars, according to UC officials, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports.
The strike began Tuesday and will continue through Wednesday (Gorman/La Ganga, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21).
Details of Strike
Officials from AFSCME Local 3299 -- a union that represents nearly 13,000 technical workers -- said that more than two weeks ago, its members at UC medical centers across the state overwhelmingly authorized a labor strike. Affected facilities include UC medical centers in:
- Los Angeles;
- San Diego; and
- San Francisco.
The decisionÂ came after 10 months of failed contract negotiations, according to the union.
UC officials argue that the strike is an attempt to distract from more important issues, such as pension reform.
The union says that during the strike, it plans to keep weekend-level staffing in critical areas, such as respiratory therapy for intensive care units, neonatal and burn units.
Todd Stenhouse -- a spokesperson for Local 3299 -- said that some strikers would go back to work in the case of medical emergencies but that they would return to picketing after patients are treated.
On Monday, a Sacramento judge approved the strike but ordered a limited number of critical care staff to continue working, citing an "imminent threat to public health or safety" (California Healthline, 5/21).
Effects of Strike
The strike has led the UC hospitals to delay:
- Diagnostic procedures;
- Elective surgeries; and
- Emergency care services (Cohen, Reuters, 5/21).
According to UC officials, some emergency department patients have been diverted to other hospitals ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21).
UC officials say that bringing in temporary medical technicians to maintain adequate staffing levels, along with other changes under the strike, could cost the hospitals a total of $20 million (Hecht/Lindelof, Sacramento Bee, 5/21).
Josh Adler -- chief medical officer for UC-San Francisco Medical Center and UC-San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital -- said that hospital officials will conduct an assessment of what services can be re-opened Wednesday.He said, "If we are able to reopen to ambulances, we will." However, he added, "We do not have plans to reopen the surgery schedule or the invasive procedure schedule" until the strike is finished ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.