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Court limits number who can strike at UC medical centers

May 20, 2013|By Anna Gorman

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that about 450 employees cannot participate in this week's planned walkout at the University of California medical centers.

The unions must maintain a minimum level of staffing among certain units, including the burn centers, the intensive care units and the neonatal intensive care units, the judge ruled.

If all the respiratory therapists in the burn centers and poison control units were to strike, the court ruled, there would be a "substantial and imminent threat to public health or safety."

Even with the injunction, more than 12,000 patient care workers from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are expected to strike from 4 a.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Thursday at the five centers in Sacramento (UC Davis), Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco and San Diego. Several thousand more from the University Professional and Technical Employees union plan to participate in a one-day sympathy strike.  

UC officials said the strike is already affecting patient care. At UC San Francisco, for example, officials had to postpone five surgeries on children with complex heart conditions and 12 pediatric chemotherapy appointments. UC San Diego Medical Center has had to delay more than 120 surgeries, officials said.

"Leaders of both unions claim their chief concern is patient care, but it's very simple: If they strike, services to patients suffer," Dwaine Duckett, vice president for system-wide human resources at UC, said in a statement.

Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for the AFSCME union, said UC is putting patients at risk every day by not having enough staff. "This is not an effort to hurt UC or patients," he said. "It is an effort to save them."

Those participating in the strike include respiratory therapists, nursing aides, radiologists, licensed vocational nurses and surgical technicians.

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anna.gorman@latimes.com

@annagorman

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