UCSF Prepares for 3-Day Strike Amid Labor Negotiations

Editor's Note: Story updated on May 7 to add details on patient impacts.

The University of California has received notice from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Service Unit that it will hold a three-day strike across the UC system beginning May 7. Several other union bargaining units intend to strike in sympathy at various times during that period, ending May 10.

The units striking in sympathy include AFSCME Patient Care Technical workers, three UPTE units (Research Support, Technical and Health Care Professionals) and the California Nurses Association.

These units represent approximately 10,800 UCSF campus and UCSF Health employees, including clinical staff who are integral to the care and well-being of patients.

UCSF leaders said they hoped for an amicable resolution to the labor negotiations, which are being conducted by the UC Office of the President.

“We value our employees and respect their rights to representation and freedom of speech,” Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and UCSF Health CEO Mark Laret said in a joint letter to the UCSF community.

“That said, striking is a serious matter, especially when it directly affects vital public services such as patient care,” they said. “Every day, our patients entrust their lives to us, and in turn, we are responsible for ensuring that they receive the highest quality care in a safe and secure environment.”

The striking employees include nurses, operating room specialists, patient care assistants, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, phlebotomists, psychologists, research coordinators and social workers, as well as custodians, food service workers and shuttle drivers.

“This strike is challenging for us,” said Sheila Antrum, RN, MHSA, senior vice president and chief operating officer of UCSF Health. “The next few days will be disruptive to our patients and their families, as well as for our staff and caregivers, and our broader community."

UCSF Health Patients

If you're a UCSF Health patient with questions about your appointment, please contact your health care provider's office. If you have other concerns, please call our Patient Relations Department at (415) 353-1936.

UCSF Health has developed a contingency plan that includes reducing scheduled surgeries, scheduling clinic visits and outpatient procedures outside the timeframe of the strike, transferring patients to other hospitals, delaying elective hospital admissions and hiring well-qualified temporary workers where appropriate. The Emergency Department will remain open during the strike, as will most ambulatory clinics.

Even so, disruptions to various services are expected.

As of Monday, May 7, UCSF Health has rescheduled 12,140 people in cancer, radiology and other clinical practices, including a number of procedures for people who require the acute specialty care of California’s top medical centers. Among the rescheduled appointments are more than 300 surgeries as well as more than 800 appointments for cancer patients, including 280 chemotherapy infusions.

UCSF has also created a contingency plan to support ongoing work across the University.

“At all times, our top priorities are ensuring the safety and security of the entire UCSF community – faculty, staff, learners, patients and visitors,” Hawgood and Laret said in the letter. “We can accomplish this by continuing to work together as a team in our shared purpose and commitment to excellence across our core missions of patient care, research and education.”

Striking Unions

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 3299, notified UC that its service members intend to strike across the UC system for a period of 72 hours beginning at 4 a.m. on Monday, May 7, and concluding on Thursday, May 10, at 3:59 a.m. AFSCME’s patient care technical workers intend to strike in sympathy during this same time period.

AFSCME service workers include custodians, food and hospital service workers, shuttle bus drivers and others in the service field.

AFSCME patient care technical workers include respiratory therapists, patient care assistants, pharmacy technicians, hospital lab techs and phlebotomists.

University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), Local 9119, notified UC of its intention to engage in a sympathy strike and picketing activity on or after Tuesday, May 8, at 4 a.m. and ending on Thursday, May 10, at 3:59 a.m.

UPTE employees include health care professionals, research support professionals and technical employees bargaining units.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) intends to engage in a sympathy strike, picketing, and other activity in support of AFSCME beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 8, and ending at 7 a.m. on Thursday, May 10.