Friday, May 24

Minority of workers participate in strike


Though the vote to protest stalled negotiations seemed nearly unanimous, majority of employees chose to go to attend work

AFSCME 3299 members across the UC went on strike this week in protest of stalled negotiations between patient-care workers and the University.

AFSCME 3299 members across the UC went on strike this week in protest of stalled negotiations between patient-care workers and the University. Blaine Ohigashi / Daily Bruin


IMPACT OF THE STRIKE

$5 million

Cost to the UCLA Health System

$15-20 million

Cost to the University of California

25 percent

Surgeries at UCLA that had to be postponed

550

Replacements brought in for workers on strike

SOURCE: Dale Tate, UCLA Health System spokeswoman. Dianne Klein, UC spokeswoman.

Only about a quarter of union workers participated in this week’s planned strike at health systems across the University of California.

About 75 percent of the union workers came to work for their scheduled shifts during the strike, which lasted from Tuesday to Thursday morning, said Dianne Klein, a UC spokeswoman.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 union, which planned this week’s strike, represents more than 13,000 UC patient-care workers. About 5,000 UCLA Health System workers are members of AFSCME 3299 or University Professional and Technical Employees, which went on strike in solidarity.

AFSCME 3299 members have said they chose to strike over concerns of pay, patient safety and pension reform. The union and the UC have been in a stalemate over negotiations for several months.

Earlier this month, AFSCME 3299 released a statement that said 97 percent of union members voted to go on strike.

This week, however, only about 20 percent of union workers in the UCLA Health System showed up to strike and about 80 percent went in for their regular shifts, said Dale Tate, a spokeswoman for the UCLA Health System.

“The human costs were minimized by thousands of our employees who put their patients first,” said John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services in a statement. “They came into work, rolled up their sleeves and did the right thing.”

In total, the strike cost the UC anywhere from $15 to $20 million, Klein said. At UCLA, 25 percent of surgeries for Tuesday and Wednesday were postponed because of the strike, according to a statement from the UCLA Health System. Hospital officials recruited about 550 extra workers to replace respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, housekeeping staff and more.

The two-day strike cost UCLA about $5 million in lost revenue and expenditures needed to hire additional workers.

“Somebody has to be there to help. It’s not like working in a grocery store,” said Sharon DePillo, a pharmacy technician and union member, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “They’re patients; they have to have someone there to take care of their needs.”

DePillo said she did not participate in the union’s vote or the strike.

“I don’t really know what two days of striking is really going to do,” DePillo said.

Other union workers said they thought the strike was a success and made a significant impact. Many UCLA employees from several other departments came out to the strike to support AFSCME 3299’s efforts, said Yancy Tate, lead custodian, who went on strike at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Licensed vocational nurse Bruce Earl Santos said procedures like blood drawings took longer on the days of the strike.

“(The strike) did take a toll on those days,” he said.

But Santos added that the hospital was prepared for the strike and that managers did a good job in hiring enough replacements beforehand.

Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for AFSCME 3299, said the union had a system in place to make sure union workers were on call for patient emergencies during the strike.

The strike’s impact was minimal and even invisible in other departments, DePillo said.

“I didn’t notice anything, honestly,” she said.

The fate of the negotiations between the UC and the union, however, is still unclear.

Officials from both organizations said they are waiting for the other side to take action.

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  • TerribleCoverage

    The union hired a team of qualified people to be ready to go in and work should any emergencies arise. However, hospitals are supposed to hire temporary workers to cover strike days. So the implication of this article is doubly disingenuous, since two layers of response were readily available to help any patients that might need it.
    Additionally, one should note that ever since the underpaying and shortstaffing of AFSCME workers began several years ago, Ronald Reagan hospital received an incomplete and then a failing grade in patient safety. So the patients are actually suffering most when workers don’t strike for better conditions–and when the Daily Bruin sides with capital against people (oh wait, I forgot that that’s what it always does).

  • StudentSupportStrike

    There is a real lack of coverage regarding student support for the patient care workers in both the articles regarding the strike

    • Jenny

      Students are ignorant of what goes on in the medical center, hospital finances, or employee contract negotiations.