UC Irvine Hospital Workers Staged a Strike and All They Got Out of It Was One Last Rip at UC

Remember those patient care workers who picketed outside UC Irvine Medical Center over stalled contract negotiations in May as hospital administrators accused them of not seriously addressing needed state pension reform? Well, UC administrators notified Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that its last contract proposal is being implemented for the 13,000 patient care technical workers whether they like it or not.

Which means all that the patient care assistants, vocational nurses and radiology technicians at 10 UC campuses and five medical centers get for the fuss in Orange (and elsewhere up and down the state) is one last chance to issue a shaming statement at administrators.

"For more than a year, our members have led the fight against the dangerous and reckless priorities of top UC administrators---chronically understaffed public hospitals, skyrocketing student tuition, and outrageous executive entitlements," AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger says in the anti-valentine.

UCI Medical Center Patient Care Worker Strike Day Two: "We're Taking Care of the Patients We Need to Take Care Of"

"While AFSCME 3299 has negotiated in good faith and offered meaningful compromise, UC has chosen to hold the health and aspirations of millions of Californians hostage over its insistence on $300,000/year public pensions for its highest paid employees. We view this as a full frontal assault--not just on the collective bargaining process and the frontline workers at the backbone of the UC system--but on the students, patients, and taxpayers this system is supposed to serve."

Go on ...

"While UC administrators have only deepened the myriad of problems that incoming UC President Janet Napolitano will soon inherit, they have also given her the opportunity to tell California how she plans to lead. If Secretary Napolitano is serious about reform and getting UC back on track, she couldn't pick a better time than now to stand up for basic fairness and call for real sacrifice from UC executives."

So there you have it: the UC is accused of hiding behind a "need" for pension reform for low-level workers by protecting those of the fat cats. And Napolitano is being cast by AFSCME 3299 as some kind of great white hope.

As for that last offer, the UC had offered a four-year contract with wage increases of up to 3.5 percent per year over the life of the deal. (Which is better than we suckers in the private sector are earning, eh gang? Remember "raises?" ... Hello ... Is this thing on?)

The negotiations were hung up on pension contributions that would increase for employees from 5 percent to 6.5 percent. A new tier of pension benefits for workers hired on or after July 1 would also be installed as would revised eligibility rules for retiree health benefits.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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