10 arrested at UCSF protest against medical center layoffs

Tara Hurley/Staff

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Around 60 union members and medical staff assembled at UCSF’s Parnassus campus Thursday in a protest that resulted in 10 arrests.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299, a union that represents UC workers, joined with University Professional and Technical Employees 9119, a union that represents UC technical workers, to protest recent layoffs at the UCSF Medical Center and the standoff in labor negotiations with the UC Office of the President.

“There’s a fundamental message that this rally is all about today,” said AFSCME 3299 spokesperson Todd Stenhouse. “That’s ‘put patients first.’ We need to send a message to the people of San Francisco that come into this hospital that the administration is not putting their priorities first.”

UCSF Medical Center recently cut 300 positions through layoffs, transfers and elimination of unfilled positions, which comes in the wake of a recent whistleblower report published by AFSCME in March detailing inadequate patient care at UC medical centers due to understaffing.

“Medical centers are going to continue to deteriorate,” said Wendi Felson, a retired UCSF employee and systemwide health care coordinator for UPTE. “All five UC medical centers have been cited for patient care violations.”

Since last November, the UC system and AFSCME have also been at an impasse over creating a new contract for UC workers focusing on pension reform.

Among the protesters were recently laid-off UC workers, including Miguel Herrera, a full-time custodian who was fired three weeks ago, and Connie Salguero, a former patient-care assistant who was fired this week.

“This was my only job here,” Salguero said. “Where will I get my food?”

According to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, the protest is a tactic used by the union in labor negotiations, and AFSCME refused the contract without offering counter-suggestions.

“Bargaining in the media is not something we support,” Klein said about the protest. “We believe bargaining should take place at the bargaining table.”

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar also appeared at the protest to support the workers.

“They’re understaffed in terms of things not being properly sanitized, and those are things that put patients at risk,” said Yee’s press secretary, Dan Lieberman. “As far as pensions go, there’s going to be a lot of continued discussions, particularly pensions that are for the executives that are quite substantial.”

The meeting for pension negotiations, which was scheduled for April 3, has been postponed to later this month.

“We hope to reach a multiyear contract that’s fair to employees … and the university that rewards employees for their hard work,” Klein said.

Contact Tara Hurley at [email protected].