UCSF Benioff Children's employees strike in largest protest in hospital's history

Registered nurses and health care workers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland are holding a one-day sympathy strike on Wednesday, which organizers say will be the largest protest in the hospital's history. 

More than 2,000 hospital employees represented by the California Nurses Association and the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union are expected to participate.

The sympathy strike is in solidarity with the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who are service and technical workers; business office and clerical workers; and professional employees.

"We will be standing in solidarity with our NUHW colleagues as they go on strike this month," said Jenny Phong, a diagnostic imaging worker. "It’s so important for working people to stand together. We all want to provide our patients with the best care."

Gail Lorenzana, a registered nurse in the hematology/oncology unit at Children's Hospital, added that she wanted her colleagues to know she supports their desire to ensure patient care and a fair contract.

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The workers have been without a contract for a year. 

They're asking for better wages, improved communication between the hospital system and it’s workers and job security should UCSF take full ownership of the hospital.

In a statement, Children's Hospital said they brought in "qualified replacement staff" for critical care, and they will reschedule patients or provide video visits for non-emergency needs. 

As for the terms of the protesters, the hospital management said they offered they "last, best and final offer" on Friday, which included a "generous compensation package" that would provide most employees with a pay increase of at least 13% over three years and for many employees, combined wage and market increases that equal 16% and more. 

"We worked hard to develop a proposal that honors the excellent work of our employees, while preserving our ability to continue caring for children in our community," the hospital wrote. "We’re disappointed the union rejected our final offer late Sunday night and is choosing to engage in a costly and disruptive strike."