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UCLA Health System hospitals remain open despite strike action

Date: 07/14/2008
Contact: Roxanne Moster ()
Phone: (310) 794-2264

Despite a court order prohibiting a strike today, a number of patient-care technical and service staff did not report to work at the UCLA Health's hospitals. The figure, though, falls far short of the total number of workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at UCLA. Most of the patient-care technical workers have shown up for work as scheduled.
 
"The UCLA Health values the contributions of all its employees and is gratified that the majority of our employees have come to work today to carry out their patient care responsibilities," said Dr. David Feinberg, chief executive officer of UCLA Medical Center. "While we have faced a number of challenges, we have been able to provide safe clinical care on behalf of our patients. Our emergency departments are functioning without interruption."
 
The paramount concern for UCLA's hospitals is the health and well-being of its patients. Measures have been taken to appropriately staff both the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.
 
"We continue to assess the situation as it unfolds and are committed to maintaining essential services and minimizing any disruptions," said Dr. Tom Rosenthal, chief medical officer of the UCLA Hospital System.
 
On July 11, a San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against AFSCME, prohibiting the union from proceeding with a strike scheduled for July 14 to 18 at University of California facilities throughout the state.

On July 9, the Public Employment Relations Board, the state agency responsible for overseeing collective bargaining for public sector employers, had issued a complaint against AFSCME for encouraging employees to participate in a strike against UC facilities even though their absence from work would clearly endanger the public's safety because of potential impacts at the medical centers. (www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/18195).
 
At UCLA, the union represents approximately 5,425 employees, including 3,200 patient-care technical employees, most at UCLA Medical Center, and 2,225 service employees, most on the main campus.
 
"We are disappointed that union leadership would continue to encourage their members to strike, despite a court order declaring such a strike a threat to public safety," Feinberg said. "Regardless, we believe that our employees are dedicated workers who care about the patients entrusted to their care - and care about upholding the law - and we expect that they will report to work as scheduled."
 
UCLA values the contributions of all employees and is hopeful of a fair and equitable resolution soon on contracts for these two separate employee groups. The UC system strives to offer its employees the most competitive salaries and benefits within available resources.
 
"Hopefully, the court's ruling and the recent complaint against the union by the Public Employment Relations Board will motivate the union to refocus its attention on settling these negotiations," said Howard Pripas, UC executive director of labor relations. "Our proposals are fair and responsive to many of the union's expressed concerns, and our employees deserve to have these negotiations resolved."
 
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