UC strike hits 10 campuses, UCSF hospitals

Workers across the University of California system began a three-day strike this morning, which is likely to affect patients of the University of California at San Francisco, campus officials said.

Workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Service Unit are holding a strike until Thursday morning at the 10 UC campuses after a year of stalled contract talks and new research showing rising inequality in the treatment of workers of color and low-wage women workers at the university.

AFSCME Local 3299 president Kathryn Lybarger said in a statement:

“We’ve bargained in good faith for over a year to address the widening income, racial and gender disparities that frontline, low-wage workers at UC are living every day. … Instead of joining us in the effort to arrest these trends, UC has insisted on deepening them-leaving workers no option but to strike.”

Four other union bargaining units and the California Nurses Association are striking in sympathy with the AFSCME Service Unit.

The units represent about 10,800 UCSF campus and UCSF Health employees and include clinical staff important to the care of patients, according to university officials.

UCSF leaders said they had hoped for a friendly resolution to the negotiations.

UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood and UCSF Health CEO Mark Laret said in a joint letter to the university community:

“… striking is a serious matter, especially when it directly affects vital public services such as patient care.”

The employees on strike include nurses, operating room specialists, patient care assistants, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, phlebotomists, psychologists, research coordinators and social workers, as well as custodians, food service workers and shuttle drivers, according to campus officials.

Sheila Antrum, senior vice president and chief operating officer of UCSF Health, said in a statement:

“This strike is challenging for us. … The next few days will be disruptive to our patients and their families, as well as for our staff and caregivers, and our broader community.”

UCSF officials said despite a contingency plan in place, they expect disruptions to some services. The emergency department and most ambulatory clinics will remain open.

University of California at Santa Cruz officials said as of 6:13 a.m. demonstrators had blocked both entrances and classes before noon were canceled except for online classes and classes in which the instructor made other arrangements.

Officials with the University of California at Berkeley weren’t immediately available to comment on how the strike was affecting the campus.