UC medical ctr. workers stage rallies to protest changes in pension plans; want higher pay, staffing

Rallies to coincide with Board of Regents meeting

SAN DIEGO - Unionized workers at the five UC medical centers statewide will stage midday rallies Wednesday to protest proposed changes in pension plans and demand higher pay and increased staffing.
   
The demonstrations at UC San Diego, UCLA and UC Irvine, as well as at UC Davis and UC San Francisco, are timed to coincide with the Board of Regents meeting in Sacramento.
   
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Local 3299 announced last week that its roughly 13,000 patient care technical workers plan to conduct a two-day strike beginning Tuesday.

Health care workers represented by University Professional and Technical Employees, or UPTE, a unit of Communication Workers of America, said they plan to honor the strike and will not cross the picket lines on Tuesday.
   
"UPTE has sent notice to the university so that they can take the necessary steps to ensure patient safety during the strike," Jelger Kalmijn, UPTE president, said. "We have identified essential personnel during the strike action so that no patient care will be endangered."
   
Some of the 3,400 UPTE-represented health care workers plan to take part in Wednesday's midday rallies.
   
According to the UPTE, the UC has "held wage agreements hostage to its proposal to institute a two-tier pension plan" and, starting July 1, to accept reductions in retirement.
   
UC officials have insisted that they have offered a fair wage and benefit proposal, and they hoped to obtain a court order blocking next week's strike, claiming the walkout would "pose an imminent threat to public health and safety" and prevent the public from receiving health care.

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