Editor's Note: Story updated to reflect sympathy strike notices on Oct. 12, and details of UCSF Health's rescheduled surgeries appointments and impacts to other operations as of Oct. 24.
The University of California has received notice from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Patient Care Technical Unit that it will hold a three-day strike across the UC system, beginning October 23, and that its AFSCME Service Unit will strike in sympathy. In addition, UC has received notice that three University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) units (Research Support, Technical and Health Care Professionals), will strike in sympathy for the same period of time.
The union units, in total, represent 7,176 employees across UCSF, including employees in the UCSF Health hospitals and campus, as well as workers at UCSF’s partner Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.
Striking employees include operating room specialists, respiratory therapists, patient care assistants, pharmacy and hospital lab technicians, phlebotomists, health care professionals, research support professionals and technical employees and others who are integral to the care and well-being of patients and their families. The striking workers also include custodians, food service workers and shuttle drivers.
UCSF leaders said they hope that UC and the unions are able to come to resolution for the open contracts soon.
“We respect our employees’ rights to representation and freedom of speech,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and UCSF Health CEO Mark Laret in a joint letter to the community. “That said, striking is a serious matter, especially when it directly affects vital public services such as patient care.”
UCSF’s primary concern throughout the strike will be the safety of patients and that of the broader UCSF community. UCSF is doing everything possible to prioritize care for those who need it most and to minimize disruptions, so that patients continue to receive the high level of care they expect from UCSF Health.
Overall, UCSF Health has cancelled more than 5,000 outpatient appointments, including 3,576 physician appointments and 1,457 lab or radiology tests, and has rescheduled approximately 2,900 of those appointments. Additionally, UCSF Health has rescheduled approximately 241 inpatient surgeries, along with 152 adult infusions and 20 pediatric infusions, and has delayed 10 elective hospital admissions. Many of the procedures are for people who require the specialty care of California’s top medical center.
During the previous, three-day labor action in May – which included members of both AFSCME units, three UPTE units and the California Nurses Association – UCSF clinical teams rescheduled more than 12,100 patient visits. These included more than 800 appointments for cancer patients, and more than 300 surgeries.
The UCSF Emergency Department will remain open during the strike, as will most ambulatory clinics. Some shuttles are operating on limited schedules and meal services in non-clinical areas have been adjusted. UCSF is contracting with outside temporary agencies to identify well-qualified, temporary replacement workers to meet our service needs.
In the non-clinical areas, shuttle schedules and meal services will be adjusted. UCSF also will contract with outside temporary agencies to identify well-qualified, temporary replacement workers to meet our service needs.
“Strikes are very disruptive,” said Sheila Antrum, RN, MHSA, senior vice president and chief operating officer of UCSF Health. “They pose serious risks to many of our patients and huge challenges to their families, our clinical staff and the broader UCSF community."
The UC Office of the President bargained for more than a year with AFSCME on behalf of the 10 UC campuses, five health systems and national laboratory.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 3299, notified UC that its patient technical care members intend to strike across the UC system for a period of three days/72 hours, beginning at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, and ending at 3:59 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 26. AFSCME’s service workers intend to strike in sympathy during this same time period.
AFSCME patient care technical workers include operation room specialists, respiratory therapists, patient care assistants, pharmacy technicians, hospital lab techs, phlebotomists.
AFSCME service workers include custodians, food and hospital service workers, shuttle bus drivers and others in the service field.
University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), Local 9119, members also voted to engage in a sympathy strike during the same period.
UPTE employees include health care professionals, research support professionals and technical employees bargaining units.