SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tens of thousands of UC health care workers are on strike through Wednesday to demand gender and racial equality. The disruption and impact on patients has been noticeable.
More than 12,000 procedures and appointments at UCSF Medical Center alone had to be cancelled and rescheduled because of this three-day strike by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299.
They are the custodians, cooks, security guards and anyone responsible for patient care who is not a doctor or nurse.
"This strike is about sending a powerful message that workers stand together against inequality and against outsourcing, period," said Todd Stenhouse, AFSCME union spokesperson.
Montel McKinney transports patients and knows about outsourcing. Before landing a staff position with UCSF, he was an independent contractor at the medical center.
"The pay wage is a lot different. You could go from making minimum wage and now make 20 something dollars an hour," explained McKinney.
The union claims the most vulnerable are people of color and women.
"I see UCSF contractors who come in and they are still on Medi-Cal, they are still getting food stamps and welfare, and that's not right because they are doing the same work that permanent employees are doing and so they should be compensated and have the same pension and benefits," said Didi Martinez, a medical assistant who was on the picket line.
The union refused to talk about salary negotiations, but UC did, saying the union wants raises of nearly 20 percent over three years. The hospital has offered 3 percent a year over four years.
The union has a patient protection task force at the hospital, so not all union workers were on the picket line. UCSF has also hired outside support for these next three days.
"We are available for emergency surgeries, and there are a couple today. We have a liver transplant going on as we speak," said Sheila Antrum, Vice President of UCSF Health.
On Tuesday, the nurses will show their support by joining AFSCME. UCSF says it will have extra staff on board to replace the nurses.
Late Monday afternoon, Senator Kamala Harris announced she will miss UC Berkeley's Spring commencement due to the ongoing labor dispute. In her place, Chancellor Carol Christ will be the keynote speaker.