UCSF and Other UC Campuses Prepare for One-Day Labor Strike in March

By Elizabeth Fernandez

The University of California has been notified of a one-day strike across the UC system by the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union for its Research Support Professionals and Technical Units (RX and TX).

The labor action begins Wednesday, March 20 at 4 a.m. and ends Thursday, March 21, at 3:59 a.m.

Sympathy strikes have been called for the same day by UPTE for its Health Care Professionals Unit (HX), and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union for its Service and Patient Care Technical Units (SX and EX). 

This is the third strike at UC by these unions in less than a year.

The unions represent approximately 7,300 employees across UCSF, including UCSF Health hospitals and campus, as well as employees 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, operating room specialists, financial counselors, pharmacists, social workers, counseling psychologists, nuclear medicine technologists and other health care, research support and technical employees who are integral to the care and well-being of patients and their families. The striking workers also include custodians, food service workers, shuttle drivers and security officers.

UCSF leaders said they hope that UC and the unions will reach resolution for the open contracts soon.

“Labor actions make a significant impact on the lives of our patients and their families,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and UCSF Health CEO Mark Laret in a joint letter to the community. “During the two strikes in 2018, thousands of patient appointments were cancelled, delayed or rescheduled. Some of our patients had to see other providers for their care. In addition, strikes create very real tensions among colleagues.”

UCSF’s primary concern throughout the March 20 strike will remain 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.

As a result of extensive planning to minimize the impact of the one-day strike, approximately 680 outpatient appointments have been rescheduled. Approximately 150 patients also have been rescheduled for oncology infusion because of the strike’s impact on pharmacy services.

During the three-day labor action in May, UCSF clinical teams rescheduled more than 12,100 patient visits, including more than 800 appointments for cancer patients and more than 300 surgeries. During the three-day labor action in October, UCSF Health rescheduled more than 5,000 outpatient appointments, including approximately 241 inpatient surgeries and 152 adult infusions.

For the one-day March strike, the UCSF Emergency Department will remain open, as will most ambulatory clinics. The cafeterias at the Parnassus Heights and Mission Bay campuses will be open as usual. 

Transportation Services will operate a limited shuttle schedule that includes changes to some pick up and drop off times, and some service disruptions are expected, but shuttle locations will remain the same. 

The limited schedule is posted in shuttle stops, on the UCSF mobile app, on the Transportation Services website, and on digital signs. Transportation “ambassadors” will be available at major shuttle stop locations to provide information to passengers. If an urgent shuttle-related issue arises during the strike, contact Transportation Services’ Customer Service Center at 415-476-4646 (GOGO).

UCSF is contracting with outside temporary agencies to identify well-qualified, temporary replacement works to meet service needs.

“The UC Office of the President is responsible for conducting negotiations with the unions on behalf of the UC system,” said Hawgood and Laret in their letter. “We hope that UC and the unions are able to come to resolution for the other open contracts soon.”