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Hospitals face second day of walkout

Katie Franey, with her dog Reese, was among the UCLA Medical Center health care workers who walked the picket line Tuesday in Los Angeles. Thousands of union members planned a two-day walkout over staffing and pension issues. AP photo

Katie Franey with her dog Reese were among the UCLA Medical Center health care workers walking the picket line during a two-day strike, Tuesday May 21, 2013 in Los Angeles. Striking workers set up picket lines in front of the UCI Medical Centers early Tuesday, the start of a walkout by nearly 1,700 health-care workers over staffing and pensions. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

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From page A4 | May 22, 2013 |

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Workers at University of California hospitals around the state picketed for a second day today before an intentionally brief strike ends early Thursday.

Thousands of hospital pharmacists, nursing assistants, operating room scrubs and other health care workers observed the 48-hour walkout in its first day Tuesday as green-shirted pickets marched outside medical centers.

It prompted the postponement of dozens of surgeries but brought reassurances that patients at facilities in Sacramento, San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Francisco.

Nurses were not on strike, emergency rooms were open, and about 450 union employees remained in critical jobs under court order.

No major problems were reported.

“We are prepared to take care of everybody in a safe fashion,” said Dr. Tom Rosenthal, chief medical officer of UCLA Hospital Systems.

The union representing some 13,000 workers is taking on the university system over staffing and pension issues.

There was no clear count of how many union workers had joined the walkout.

“We are well into the thousands,” said Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

However, Rosenthal said a preliminary estimate indicated that more than half of union employees had reported for work at UC facilities in the Los Angeles area.

The hospitals had prepared for the strike by postponing non-essential surgeries, hiring hundreds of temporary workers and having supervisors do some jobs.

About 30 surgeries were being postponed through the strike period at Los Angeles-area facilities, Rosenthal said.

In Sacramento, more than 45 operations were postponed in the UC Davis health system, while five children’s surgeries were postponed at UC San Francisco facilities, according to a UC statement.

More than 200 procedures were rescheduled at San Diego and Orange County medical facilities, officials told City News Service.

Stenhouse said the labor dispute involved chronic and dangerously low staffing levels.

UC officials have said the real issue is a refusal by the union to accept a new pension plan similar to those of other state workers.

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