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Union members demand meeting with Block on health center funding

By Rupan Bharanidaran

April 13, 2015 3:54 pm

About 30 UCLA student health center doctors and other union members marched to the office of Chancellor Gene Block on Monday to demand a meeting regarding student health center funding.

The Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which has been negotiating its first labor contract with the University of California for more than a year, has been holding an unfair labor practice strike at all UC campuses for the past few days. UCLA union members have been on strike since Saturday, picketing during Bruin Day festivities over the weekend.

The union claims that when requested, the UC refused to give information regarding how the funding for the recent increases in chancellors’ salaries was allocated and whether the chancellors’ discretionary funds could have been spent on improving student health centers instead. The union first held a strike in January, protesting similar issues.

Charles McDaniel, a UAPD member and psychiatrist at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA and UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services, said the union feels that nothing has changed since January.

“We want to protect student health and we want information regarding how the health centers are being funded, yet the UC is refusing to give us that information,” he said.

Dwaine B. Duckett, the UC’s vice president for human resources, said in a statement released April 3 that the University disagrees that the strikes are about unfair labor practices and said the union refuses to discuss the alleged unfair practices at the bargaining table.

UAPD members formed a picket line in Bruin Plaza, chanting “Student health, not UC wealth,” then started walking along Bruin Walk from Bruin Plaza around 1 p.m., chanting “We’re fired up, can’t take it no more.”

They then entered Murphy Hall and marched up to Block’s office on the second floor. Michael Simidjian, a labor relations specialist for the university, said the union would have to schedule an appointment at some other time to see Block.

After a 15-minute back and forth between McDaniel and Simidjian, McDaniel gave his contact information to Kris Kaupalolo, an administrator for student affairs, to schedule an appointment with Block.

Other unions joined the doctors in their protests, including Unite Here Local 11, a service industry workers union, and United Auto Worker 2865, the graduate student workers union.

Joseph Silva, a member of Unite Here, said he was supporting the protest in solidarity because many Unite Here members have children that go to the UCs.

“The student health centers are often the only source of health care for students from lower income families, and cuts to health center budgets hurt them the most,” he said.

The UCLA members of UAPD, along with union members at UC campuses in Santa Barbara, Irvine, Riverside and San Diego, will continue the strike until Wednesday morning.

Compiled by Rupan Bharanidaran, Bruin contributor.

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Rupan Bharanidaran | News editor
Bharanidaran is the News editor. He was previously a news reporter for the campus politics beat, covering student government and the UCLA administration.
Bharanidaran is the News editor. He was previously a news reporter for the campus politics beat, covering student government and the UCLA administration.
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