Up to 300 people are expected to rally and picket in Orange later this morning and, no, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Students, health workers, union officials and community leaders plan to demonstrate outside UC Irvine Medical Center to protest recently announced staffing cuts that have already eliminated as many as 175 jobs—and led to reductions in work time for many others, according to union officials.
Should that read like deja vu all over again, that's because there was an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)-organized rally at the same hospital last month.
The previous protest was in reaction to UC Irvine Health CEO Howard Federoff having announced job cuts for nurses, service coordinators and emergency trauma, psychiatry, radiology and other technical occupations.
Among the workers who were initially displaced were frontline caregivers with as much as 30 years of experience as well as two pregnant women who are losing their UC-sponsored health insurance just days before their expected delivery dates, claims AFSCME Local 3299.
Meanwhile, UCI Health posted nearly a $70 million profit from operations in 2015, with rising numbers of patient admissions and outpatient visits, according to the union, which adds Federoff is set to be paid nearly a million dollars this year, including six figure bonuses tied to pre-determined profit targets.
“For a public, tax-exempt medical system to put profits before patient care—particularly at a time of chronic understaffing and rising need from patients—is both appalling and dangerous,” says Monica De Leon, a UCI Hospital Unit Service Coordinator and vice president of AFSCME 3299’s Patient Care Bargaining Unit, which represents many of the laid off workers.
“These layoffs undermine our ability to deliver quality care to those who need it most, while lining the pockets of those who need it the least. That’s why we are calling on UCI Health to get its priorities straight and put our colleagues back to work.”
She is among those scheduled to participate in today's protest, which is scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., as are AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger, UC Student Association Executive Vice President Taylor Chanes and members of the Orange County Labor Federation.
The rally takes place at Healing Garden in front of main UCI Medical Center building at 101 The City Drive South, Orange.