UCSF medical centers prepare for strike

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AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.

On Tuesday morning at 4 a.m., a 48-hour strike will begin at University of California medical centers across the state.

The strike was called by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, a union representing more than 13,000 UC patient care technical workers.

AFSCME has been at an impasse on contract negotiations with UC for months. Administrators have pointed to proposed pension reform measures as the central issue, while the union has highlighted rising executive salaries and bonuses that they deem unfair at a time when frontline staff positions have been cut. AFSCME also recently called for new caps on UC executives’ pensions.

Speaking on a conference call earlier today, Jack Stobo, senior vice president for health sciences and services at the UC system, told reporters that the upcoming strike would affect patient care. He said 150 surgeries had to be rescheduled, and estimated that some 100 patient transfers would be delayed. “We have canceled a number of chemotherapy sessions and approximately half of radiation sessions with patients who are about to start radiation therapy,” he added. 

UC administrators pegged the total cost of the two-day strike at about $20 million for the entire system, mostly associated with hiring temporary staffers. They did not provide the number of temporary staffers that would be brought on. Stobo said the strike “will impact our ability to provide the quality services that we’re committed to provide to a large number of patients.”

AFSCME, on the other hand, says it has been working for months to craft a patient protection plan. "We have a patient protection task force in place in the event of a medical emergency," such as an event that would cause a major influx of patients, AFSCME 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse told the Bay Guardian. "Our workers are the ones ... who understand the stakes. That's why they've taken pains to make sure patients are protected."

Union representatives say they are striking in part due to concern about the long-term erosion of patient care, stemming from cuts to frontline staff positions earlier this year.

“This strike is not just about the next two days – it’s about the fact that UC is endangering its patients every day with chronic understaffing and reckless cost cutting,” said AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger. “If we don’t stand up to it now, we are inviting disaster when thousands of new patients begin flooding UC hospitals with the onset of the Affordable Care Act in the coming year.”

Earlier today, a California Superior Court decision enjoined certain respiratory therapists and other critical classifications from striking, but the ruling does not prevent the strike from going forward. The decision stemmed from an effort by UC to halt the strike by petitioning for injunctive relief with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB). The labor board upheld the union's right to strike and only sought a temporary injunction in court.

Meanwhile, AFSCME-represented UC service workers will also hold a "sympathy strike" in support of patient care employees, and the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), a union which represents pharmacists, clinical lab scientists, social workers and other health care professionals, is also planning a daylong sympathy strike on May 21. 

Jelger Kalmijn, systemwide president of UPTE, told the Bay Guardian that his union membership had voted to strike because “we support our sisters and brothers who work at UCSF.” He added that UPTE is also in contract negotiations with UC, and noted that pension reform is a key issue. “People stay here because of the benefits and the pension,” Kalmijn said. “It’s a serious concern. When [UC] makes half a billion in profit, why should employees have to give up their right to retire with dignity?”

Comments

These people do not realize how good a deal they have, and putting the lives of patients at risk to fule their greed is appalling.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

Do you even know the reason why they strike? Just because UC officials told you that they strike because they don't want to pay pensions? Didn't you know that they have been paying for a big amount of money thinking that they will have retirement someday? But when their president Yudof came, he only works there for five years & now decided to retire will have to get a large amount of money from the workers. Aside from the $10,000 allowance for his home, plus hundreds of thousands of bonuses in a total of $900,000/ year! They even laid off workers that had worked there more than 34 years! Because of what? Cost cutting? Last year UC made $600 million of profit. Where did it all go? Small UC employees were asked to pay double to their health insurance plan which they cannot afford to. Just because you people just believe what officials says, you have the right to judge them. Get your facts straight. Know the truth.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

nobody gets laid off. A good business is always reviewing workers, especially the bottom 10% performers with a view to culling.

And yes, the idea that workers need to pay more towards the inflating cost of healthcare and pension provision is hardly radical either.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:09 am

Health care workers asking for better working conditions so they can take care of patients better?

Or an entity that chooses to leave fewer workers to take care of the same number of patients, just so it can maintain higer profits?

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:41 am

to meet all the needs of everyone who would like to work there, then something has to give.

The most obvious thign to give is the pension and healthcare benefits, which are much better there than most of us get.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:53 am

is to give up some of the profits! Duh!

Or how about cutting the pay and benefits of an adminstrator salary or two? I'm sure there's quite a bit of waste there.

Times are lean. In order to maintain good patient care, sometimes the entity can't afford to be quite as profitable, or to pad the administrators' pay quite as much. Something has to give. For me, cutting workers directly responsible for patient care would be the LAST thing I'd cut. But that's just me. I'm weird that way.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:06 am

Why is the solution always "cut the profits" or "lower managers' pay"?

How about an end to ridicuously generous pension plans?

And yes, you are "weird" if you would knowingly overpay workers for an ideological imperative.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:17 am

How 'bout just once for a change. Seems the solution is always to screw the workers first.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

But the rest of us should be brought up to their standard, not them brought down to everyone else's.

Posted by So what? on May. 25, 2013 @ 11:24 am

Who told you nobody gets laid off? Where on earth you came from? A worker that has been working there for 14 years were just been laid off last month! Maybe you are one of the UC official's dogs scouting around here! They are not up to the pay inrease. They were asking UC officials, to minimize the inrease contibutions of their pension plan since every year they are loosing thousands of dollars for their pension estimates when they retire. Since all the money goes to their precious CEO, PRESIDENT & managerial staffs!

As with every labor dispute, there are two sides to this story. Unfortunately it would appear that this town’s notoriously lazy reporters are on track to only tell management’s side. This walkout is not about a pay raise – both sides agree that an increase in pay is part of any settlement – it’s about a lot of things, not the least of which is a growing sense by the employees in the UC Medical system that their voices are not being heard..

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:49 am

Do you even know the reason why they strike? Just because UC officials told you that they strike because they don't want to pay pensions? Didn't you know that they have been paying for a big amount of money thinking that they will have retirement someday? But when their president Yudof came, he only works there for five years & now decided to retire will have to get a large amount of money from the workers. Aside from the $10,000 allowance for his home, plus hundreds of thousands of bonuses in a total of $900,000/ year! They even laid off workers that had worked there more than 34 years! Because of what? Cost cutting? Last year UC made $600 million of profit. Where did it all go? Small UC employees were asked to pay double to their health insurance plan which they cannot afford to. Just because you people just believe what officials says, you have the right to judge them. Get your facts straight. Know the truth. UC officials are a bunch of liars. They said they were proposing 3.5% increase? Hell NO! The truth is only 2%. And in that 2% they are taking 1.5% for the pension & the remaining .5 % is for the employees. So in that .5% increase, minus the health insurance & tax...so what's left for them? NOTHING! It all goes to the pocket of these GREEDY UC OFFICIALS! If these greedy officials cared so much for the patients, then why did they lay offs a lot of paient care workers? Those workers are the ones that are doing all the hard manual labor. Imagine of assigning 22 patients to each of them? So where is safety to that then? Sometimes you could even see them working ALONE in the whole floor with a total of 45 patients. Isn't it UC is putting more at risk patients then?
So before you judge them, know the truth & reason behind it. I don't even think you can stay an hour or two if multiple patients are calling for you to wipe their ass!

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 12:05 am

And the workers still have benefits that are far better than private sector workers.

Sorry, I'm solidly behind the management here.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:10 am

Really? Coulda fooled me. I thought rents and housing costs were skyrocketing.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:45 am

under rent control.

The rents for vacant units are inflating more, but that is because rent control artificially constrains supply, hurting new tenants.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:55 am

Of course housing is THE biggest expense in San Francisco, so when you want to argue that inflation is low, no problem, just take out housing.

Well, you're in good company. The government does that too.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:03 am

I said you were exaggerating rent inflation.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:15 am

to guest: Greg's right, you NEED to know the facts first. Your ignorance does not help you at all.

to Greg: Good for you for knowing the workers' reasons behind the strike. Go Greg!

Posted by G.Rome on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

That's a great way to run a business.

Time to downsize or privatize UC, perhaps?

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

UCSF has consistently cut staff and delayed wage increases to pour funding and resources into building the hospital at Mission Bay. All resources, except management's perks and incomes, are dedicated to bringing the Mission Bay Hospital on-line because it will be a revenue generating source. The fact that the UC system has turned out its pockets to a project on landfill which by latest accounts will be under 1 foot of water by 2050 is an interesting study in ambition. Whatever monies are not directed to UCSF Hospital expansion go to supporting the UCSF Medical School deficit for the top salaried Docs needed to solicit donor funding. It's an excellent compendium of smoke and mirrors. Non managerial staff are required to go through a Union in order to have the pay and perk increases nominally accorded to UC management. UC does not have any mechanism in place to deal with salary and status increases except through a union and that is a major point against any equitable discussion between staff and management. Of course, there are exceptions, through pre-selection of individuals who fulfill targeted social requirements. I wonder if Harvard Medical or Stanford have the same problems and issues.

Posted by When is a deal a deal on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:54 am

I'd prefer a system where each staff member indivdually negotiates their pay and benefits according to their performance.

Meanwhile those pensions have to be cut - insanely generous and unaffordable, and that's the real reasons shortcuts are taken - patients suffer because too much money goes to the pension fund.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:04 am

they're walking off the job and leaving them unattended.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 20, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

Ultimately it's good for patients for care providers to have good working conditions.

Posted by Greg on May. 20, 2013 @ 9:27 pm

We should give workers whatever they want because otherwise they won't work as hard or as well?

IOW, blackmail?

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:11 am

I would want the people taking care of me to be happy, not miserable.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:43 am

Meanwhile managers have to manage on a limited budget.

Nobody forces you to go to UCSF and maybe a small private clinic would give you better care - they are very well paid.

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Posted by loki thor on May. 20, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

Jason Grant Garza here ... let us get a little closer to HOME ... if you think AFSCME actions are WRONG ... what about San Francisco's Department of Public Health refusal to provide Health Care, have my ADA rights, use the Sheriff to thwart my legal and medical rights, DPH'S "any DOOR is the RIGHT door policy", etc. These people are striking because they KNOW the details of operation and the LAWS regarding patient care.

As far as DPH look at the CRIMINAL FRAUD (providing paperwork that the officers relied upon to deny me my rights) on 8/15/2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo then again on 12/19/2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFd-KtS8Zss and if that was not enough on then on 3/15/2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa7kfWNt4aQ and then the TOPPER on 5/1/2013 where I am BRUTALLY ASSAULTED by the Sheriff's department http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCuMwXVxADk

Shall we see HOW MUCH help I have gotten from other agencies ... look at youtube. Look at the Sheriff's videos ( 11/27 series ) where I am told - IT IS NOT ILLEGAL to videotape and to go BACK to the LAWBREAKERS - DPH. See what I got after drinking the Sheriff's CUP of POISON and please realize as you look at the videos that I have NOT been able to get a FOLLOWUP meeting with the Sheriff ... WHY? ... where's the INTEGRITY?

So the DEVIL is in the details ... shall we look into the DETAILS of why the STRIKE ... and if these patients are UNATTENDED what ATTENTION have I gotten telling the TRUTH ???

Yes, in a PERFECT world there would be NO STRIKES and I would NOT have the LAW BROKEN against me by the UNACCOUNTABLE and UNTOUCHABLE Department of Public Health for San Francisco and I would not have its complicit city agencies failing ... REMEMBER the BOY SCOUTS and all the complicit PLAYERS ...

Yes, the city, SFPD, Sheriff and DPH believe that MIGHT makes RIGHT; however, it is TRUTH that makes RIGHT and as such I will continue.

Oh and if you DO NOT believe that the city can and does BREAK MEDICAL LAW ... look at this signed confession http://myownprivateguantanamo.com/settle1.html and read this article http://www.sfbg.com/2007/06/27/crazy

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Posted by loki thor on May. 20, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

I fully support the strike of these workers. The UC System has billions of dollars, its a shame that they want to take away from employees and keep the money for themselves. These changes will seriously affect the students, the employees, and the public.UC needs to do the right thing and fund the retirement and pension plan and keep in tact as is.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

government and so that is our taxpayer money that is funding their generous benefits, while the rest of us have far inferior benefits.

Management should stand firm here.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:12 am

Absurd, UC only gets about 10% from government funds, they are a sufficient business that is putting patients at risk with more patients to staff rations.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:31 am

Or even make a profit and give that money back to the taxpayer.

So if getting workers to pay for benefits the same way as the rest of us do is part of that, then I am 100% behind the management here.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:39 am

I fully support the strike, especially after the announcement that UCSF made record high profits but needed to cut 300 jobs at the same time.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:41 am

Just because you are efficient, doesnt mean that you cannot be more efficient, and UCSF exists to teach and heal, not to provide pay and benefits to workers that are far in excess of private-sector comps.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:10 am

I don't know if that's true, that UCSF workers get pay and benefits far in excess of the private sector. Until I have proof of that, I'll regard that as just another trollish comment pulled out of the ass.

I do know this... UCSF is regarded as one of the top medical schools in the country... "far in excess" of private medical schools (that is to say, far better). I know my family trusts them with care more than any crap private group like Sutter. So if their employees do make more, they certainly deserve it. But I would like to see some figures.

Posted by Greg on May. 21, 2013 @ 7:50 am

three different retirement plans, one of which they don't contribute to at all, another that is DB, and a third which is like a 401K.

That may be even more generous than SF's pensions.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 11:37 am

FYI, UCSF personnel started mandatory contributions to the UC pension system in 2010, increasing in percentage every single year since then. The other retirement plans you refer to are unmatched -- just semi-sheltered savings accounts. No one is getting a free ride here, most of us aren't funded by CA tax-based operations, and by the time many of us see pensioner-age, the funds are likely to be all gone since the generous contracts of the almost-retired cannot be changed. Personally, after 11 years at UCSF, I fall into a title classification gap where I am 2 years shy of some arbitrary cut-off and will not be eligible for any level of pension until 65. My medical insurance contribution has easily doubled since I started. Doesn't it sound like the private-sector, all you "UC-employees-have-super-great-benefits" commenters? None of the non-managerial staff are getting rich or great benefits here -- that's so 1992. UCSF is bleeding talent now -- out to the private sector where they can get paid market rate and get bonuses for performance on top of it. I am non-bargained, but I still feel for the AFSCME workers because I see how the layoffs/reorganizations have been fast and furious in recent years, making us all do a whole lot more with a whole lot less.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 2:58 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

Clearly, that "someone" you know lied to you!

Posted by G.Rome on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

Way better than mine, and I actually work for a for-profit venture and not a goivernment agency.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

...and you expect everyone to believe that? Really? 3 different retirement plans? For someone who is SOOOO opinionated you're too shy to post your name. Get a life!
Go Greg!

Posted by G.Rome on May. 21, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

Can't recall exactly - one was a 401K equivalent plan, one was a savings plan and one was a US DB plan.

Any which way, it was way better than you or I have.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

If your family member or loved one was at a UC medical center today, wouldn't you want them to have the best care possible?

Posted by UCSF Worker on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:06 am

your duties.

And implied blackmail won't win you any sympathy either.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:14 am

Surrender to management and have staffing eventually cut to the bone, with workers getting paid crap wages and benefits? You think you'll get good care then?

Posted by Greg on May. 22, 2013 @ 8:04 am

Anyone who is tired of waiting over an hour past their scheduled appointment nearly every time they go to UCSF should be in support of this strike

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:43 am

That's really bizarre logic.

Everyone has to wait for doctors because the work is optimized to maximize the work the doctors can perform - they are too valuable a resource to have them waiting around for you.

If you see a private consultant, you probably won't have to wait as long, but they cannot perform complex surgeries.

UCSF does a great job and we are lucky to have a world-class facility like that here in SF. But their cost base is too high and needs to be brought down - hence these necessary changes to benefits.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 6:56 am

you're being short sighted, the 2 day discomfort you're having will help resolve the every increasing short staffing UCSF is facing.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:34 am

management have no reason to change their reasonable proposals.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 11:35 am

no, bizarre logic was the internal UCSF email that went out reporting record profits and the need to cut 300 jobs back in March

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2013 @ 8:38 am