Court Injunction Limits Striking Employees at UC Medical Centers

November 19, 2013

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge has issued an injunction limiting the number of UC patient care employees that can strike on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents nearly 13,000 UC patient care workers and 8,300 service employees, announced it is asking its members to strike at UC medical centers and campuses on Nov. 20.

Judge David I. Brown issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday barring certain employees who perform essential functions in patient health and safety from striking. Read the injunction

Earlier today, UC Vice President of Human Resources Dwaine B. Duckett appealed to AFSCME to call off its strike and invited the union to resume talks with UC.

“Striking is not the answer. It will only hurt patients and drive us farther apart,” Duckett wrote in a letter to union leadership. He added, “UC has demonstrated its commitment and ability to work through issues and reach an agreement, as we did with two other unions last week. I am hopeful we can do the same with AFSCME, which would not only serve your members but will ensure that our patients and students continue to receive the critical services they depend on.”

Read UC’s letter to AFSCME here.

UC reached a four-year tentative agreement with the California Nurses Association last weekend for more than 11,700 nurses. CNA withdrew its notice to strike in sympathy with AFSCME.

The university also finalized contracts with two other unions within the last four weeks: a comprehensive five-year contract for librarians, and a four-year agreement for police officers.

Both were ratified by the unions’ memberships.

In preparation for AFSCME’s strike, UC is executing plans to ensure all medical facilities stay open and quality patient care is delivered during the strike.

Even the threat of an AFSCME strike has already affected patients. Each medical center has had to reschedule elective surgeries, including cardiac surgeries and kidney transplants, planned for Nov. 20. Many cancer patients who were to receive treatment on Nov. 20 have had their appointments canceled. Emergency rooms may be on "drive by" status, which means ambulances with critically ill patients may have to travel precious minutes longer to alternative facilities to get patients the emergency care they need.

UC patient care technical employees include those who operate equipment for ultrasounds, X-rays, CT scans and other tests; radiation therapists who treat cancer patients; respiratory therapists who help patients with breathing and treatment plans; and technicians who sterilize equipment used in surgeries.

The university is committed to reaching a long-term contract with AFSCME and invited AFSCME back to the bargaining table as recently as Nov. 4 and Nov. 6-7 in an effort to resolve differences. The university proposed several packages that showed significant movement in response to the union's concerns and offered multi-year wage increases, affordable healthcare and quality pension benefits, which AFSCME rejected.

Read more about UC’s proposals and these negotiations here.