UC service workers begin 5-day strike

July 14, 2008 7:41:02 PM PDT
Hundreds of service workers at five U.C. medical centers are on strike, despite a judge's order Friday prohibiting the walkout.

The strike began on Monday morning and 10 U.C. campuses are affected. But the real impact is really being felt on the medical centers, including UCSF.

The workers have bowed to remain on the picket line through the rest of the week, so that means four more days unless an agreement is reached.

UCSF Medical Center brought in 130 temporary workers to replace those who walked off on Monday morning.

"I think they just wanted to have people on hand. I don't know that they've actually needed all 130, but it's just important to make sure that we can maintain patient care at the medical center," said UC spokesperson Nicole Savickas.

Those replaced are custodians, food service workers and those working on respiratory therapy and as sterile processing technicians.

The strike is mainly over wages.

"About 96 percent of our service workers are paid so poorly, that we are eligible for state aid, food stamps, Section A housing," said union spokesperson Richard Sandoval.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees has 8,500 members picketing 10 campuses and five medical center.

On Friday, a San Francisco judge issued a restraining order prohibiting the strike. On Monday, several were threatened with disciplinary action by the UC System via phone messages.

"We have a court order prohibiting the strike, so we weren't really expecting that the union would defy the state order," said Savickas.

Union members say they were only required to give the UC system a proper strike name.

"That was the only injunction by the court, it was just to find a proper date time for the strike. There was no other issue involved for the service group. It's perfectly legal to be out there," said Sandoval.

UC Davis was the first to say 'we'll take disciplinary action.' In a statement UC Davis said: "Normal attendance policies will be applied relating to excused and unexcused absences."

That means, the employees could be fired. The union responded: "They can't fire all of us."


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