News

UC patient care workers OK new contract

University of California patient care technical workers have ratified a new four-year contract with 99% approval.

The 13,000 workers, who are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, had threatened to go on strike for five days beginning on March 24 but they called off the strike when they reached a tentative agreement with the university on March 23.

The walkout would have affected all five UC hospitals -- San Francisco, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Workers ratified the new contract in voting late last week.

Patient care technical workers include pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists, radiation therapists who treat cancer patients and those who operate equipment for x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans.

The new contract includes wage increases, staffing protections and changes to health care and pension benefits.

UC vice president Dwaine Duckett said in a statement, "We are disappointed that this process took as long as it did and became so contentious" and it follows "two years of difficult negotiations focused on the complex issue of pension reform."

Duckett said, "The negotiations concluded with both sides responding to the other's key concerns and ultimately compromising."

AFSCME Local 3299 spokesman Todd Stenhouse said all patient care workers will get a wage increase of at least 16.5% over the length of the contract and some workers will also be eligible for additional 2% step increases each of the next four years.

Stenhouse said the union believes that the most important part of the contract is that "it takes important steps to ensure patient safety and improve safety at the university's hospitals" because the university withdrew demands for sweeping new layoff powers.

— Bay City News Service

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