As Strike Looms, It’s Back To The Bargaining Table For UC, Patient Care Technical Workers

Negotiators for the University of California and 13,000 patient care technical workers will go back to the bargaining table on Friday to try to avert a five-day strike that’s set to begin on Monday at the five UC hospitals, negotiators said today.

UC spokeswoman Diane Klein said the university believes that the last-minute scheduling of talks for Friday is a “good sign.” She said the university is “eager to negotiate a settlement.”

But Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents the patient care workers, was more cautious, saying only that, “We’ll wait and see” what happens at the bargaining table on Friday.

Union leaders announced last week that workers would walk out from March 24 through March 28 at all five UC hospitals – Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco – over their allegation that the university is engaging in unfair bargaining practices.

Stenhouse said today that the state Public Employment Relations Board issued complaints on Wednesday night accusing UC of bad faith bargaining for unilaterally imposing contract terms and health benefit changes as well as making last-minute demands for what he described as “sweeping new layoff powers.”

But Klein said the university denies that it is engaging in bad faith bargaining and at this point the state board hasn’t had any hearings or made any findings on the union’s allegations.

Klein said either side may file an unfair labor practice allegation and then the state board investigates the matter.

She said the university believes that wages are the real reason the university is threatening to go on strike next week, not unfair bargaining practices.

But Stenhouse said the union believes that, “UC needs to stop breaking the law, stop moving the goalposts and stop sabotaging the contract talks.”

Patient care technical workers include pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists, radiation therapists who treat cancer patients and those who operate equipment for x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans and mammograms.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!