Second day of health care strike forces postponement of non-emergency surgeries and other procedures

Hundreds of surgeries, procedures canceled

Health care workers at UC San Diego Medical Center will walk the picket line for the second day in a row Wednesday as part of a two-day strike that has forced non-emergency surgeries and other procedures to be postponed.
Thousands of health care workers from UC San Diego Medical Center and University of California hospitals across the state began the strike Tuesday morning, hoping to push hospital officials to end a contract dispute.
UC officials insisted that they have offered a fair wage and benefit proposal, saying the sticking points in negotiations are pension contributions, which would increase for employees from 5 percent to 6.5 percent in the most recent talks, a new tier of pension benefits for workers hired on or after July 1, and revised eligibility rules for retiree health benefits.
According to UC, the latest four-year contract offer includes wage increases of up to 3.5 percent per year over the life of the deal. Union officials, however, have accused UC of failing to negotiate in good faith and limiting worker salaries while earning millions in profits.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 earlier this month disclosed its plan for roughly 13,000 patient care technical workers to strike.
Thousands of health care workers represented by University Professional and Technical Employees, or UPTE, a unit of Communication Workers of America, said they would honor the strike and would not cross the picket lines. Other AFSCME-represented hospital workers also vowed to honor the picket line in a sympathy strike.
Patient care technical workers include technicians for ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, mammograms and other tests, radiation therapists for cancer patients, pharmacy technicians and respiratory therapists, according to UC.
UC officials went to court in Sacramento Monday in hopes of halting the strike on the basis of patient safety, and a judge issued a restraining order preventing about 100 workers across the UC system from taking part in the walkout to ensure that vital services would not be disrupted.
Dwaine Duckett, vice president for human resources at UC, said the injunction was "more limited than what we were seeking," and said it was wrong for the union "to put patients in the middle of a labor dispute and jeopardize essential services to them as a negotiating tactic."
System wide, more than 120 surgeries and 350 radiological procedures were canceled and need to be rescheduled, according to a statement from UC San Diego Health Science News. Duckett noted that about 180 surgeries and other procedures were delayed just at UC San Diego Medical Center.

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