Court issues injunction preventing some UC health care workers from striking

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A Sacramento Superior Court judge has issued an injunction limiting the number of workers who can participate in a strike planned for Tuesday at UC medical centers.

The injunction applies to about 450 patient care technical employees that have critical responsibilities, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, which represents more than 12,500 UC patient care employees, is planning to strike Tuesday amid ongoing contract negotiations with the university that began in June 2012. University Professional and Technical Employees 9119, a union representing technical workers, is also asking its members to strike in solidarity with AFSCME 3299.

The request for the injunction was filed by the state’s Public Employment Relations Board on behalf of the university, which argued that walkouts by certain essential employees pose an imminent threat to public health and safety.

In a press conference Monday, Dr. John Stobo, the UC system’s senior vice president for health sciences and services, said that the strike will cost about $20 million and result in the cancellation of several medical procedures.

“We appreciate the injunction and PERB’s complaint, even though both are more limited than what we were seeking,” said Dwaine Duckett, vice president for systemwide human resources at the university. “We believe it’s completely inappropriate to put patients in the middle of a labor dispute and jeopardize essential services to them as a negotiating tactic.”

The injunction prohibits employees in the neonatal intensive care, pediatric intensive care and burn units from participating in the strike.

Todd Stenhouse, spokesperson for AFSCME 3299, said the union had already volunteered 100 critical employees to work during the strike and that the judge’s ruling emphasizes that there is no imminent threat to the public’s safety.

“Today’s ruling affirms our members’ right to advocate for their patients and reassures the public that there will be no imminent health and safety risks associated with this week’s strike,” said Kathryn Lybarger, president of AFSCME 3299. “The court has honored our members’ commitment to protect patient safety and to stand up to UC’s unsafe staffing practices and reckless cost-cutting, which are too often putting our patients at risk.”

Andrea Guzman is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and on Twitter @guzmanandrea5.