UC patient care workers plan three-day strike

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By Bay City News Service

Patient care technical workers at the University of California's medical facilities are planning a three-day strike this week to protest the institution's outsourcing of jobs to contract companies, union officials said today. 

The workers, represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, say UC's outsourcing practices have created "alarming patterns of inequality" and are damaging services.

Contract companies pay workers less and offer little to no benefits, union leaders said, threatening union jobs.

Picket lines and rallies are planned at, starting Tuesday, 17 UC facilities around the state, including three in the Bay Area: UC San Francisco Medical Center Parnassus, UC San Francisco Medical Center Mission Bay and UC Berkeley.

"We've bargained in good faith for over a year to address outsourcing at UC because it creates unequal and insecure circumstances that workers must struggle with every day," AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said.

The 15,000 UC patient care technical workers include respiratory therapists, nurse aides and patient transporters. Union leaders said they would be joined on the picket lines by 9,000 other AFSCME-represented workers and 15,000 workers from the University Professional and Technical Employees 

A previous 3-day strike in May by university service workers prompted 53,000 workers to walk off the job.

UC officials maintain AFSCME leaders are spreading false information about union employees being displaced. They said that over the past five years UC systemwide, the number of patient care employees has increased by 2,450 workers, and spending on campus service contracts has 
remained flat.

"It is unfortunate that AFSCME leaders still have yet to glean a simple lesson from their May demonstration: their combative stance is harmful and ineffective," Claire Doan, spokesperson for the UC Office of the President, said.

During the strike this week, a limited number of employees will continue to work, per an agreement worked out with the university, union officials said.