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Patient-care workers authorize strike

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March 16, 2014 |

The union representing University of California patient-care technical workers has voted to authorize a strike, its third in a year, March 24-28.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, local No. 3299, said 97 percent of members voted in favor. The union is alleging “growing incident of illegal, bad faith bargaining” on the part of UC.

AFSCME represents about 13,000 patient-care workers, including respiratory therapists, nursing aides and surgical technicians, as well as security guards and other hospital employees at UC’s five medical centers and student health centers.

The union says it will exempt 49 respiratory therapists and hemodialysis technicians from the strike and will form a “patient protection task force” to respond to emergency medical needs.

UC says it cost $30 million to maintain critical patient services during AFSCME’s two previous strikes.

The union says that some 18 months into the bargaining process, UC demanded new layoff powers. The union also objects to UC’s decision last year to impose a final offer that included  2-percent step increase and a 1.5-percent wage increase.

The university previously has blamed the impasse on the AFSCME’s refusal to accept pension reform.

In November, the union held an unfair labor practices strike after the California Public Employment and Relations Board’s decision to file an unfair labor practices charge against UC, based on AFSCME complaints of threatening and intimidating behavior during a two-day health care worker strike the previous May. The matter is still pending before the board. 

Patient-care workers received 5-percent raises in 2012 and 2013. They earn an average of $55,000 a year, according to UC, with a wide salary range depending on occupation, from $30,000 to $170,000.

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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