UC Health System Cancels Surgeries in Preparation for Labor Union Strike May 7–9

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The UC San Diego Jacobs and Hillcrest Medical Centers will delay surgeries due to the impending UC labor union strike from May 7 to 9 by AFSCME 3299 and sympathy strikes by other UC labor unions.

“Today, AFSCME Local 3299, which represents over 25,000 Service and Patient Care technical workers at the University of California, issued a 10-day notice of their intention to engage in a three-day strike from May 7 to 9,” AFSCME 3299 stated in a press release on April 26. “University Professional & Technical Employees and California Nurses Association will support the strike in sympathy from May 8-9.”

As the University of California system’s largest labor union, AFSCME 3299 represents over 24,000 workers across ten UC campuses, five medical centers, and numerous clinics and labs, including the workers for Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH), hospital workers, and career staff. The medical employees include respiratory therapists, surgical technicians, and licensed vocational nurses at university hospitals.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, UCSD Health System representatives started rescheduling some surgeries on Wednesday in anticipation of the strike and stopped new procedures from Monday to Friday.

“Everything’s being evaluated case-by-case,” said Assistant Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations for the UCSD Health System Jacqueline Carr in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune. Carr further ensured patients in an email that schedulers will try to find new dates as close to the original dates as possible, and all patients impacted by the strike will receive personal calls from UCSD Health staff to arrange new dates.

Since all hospitals must keep emergency departments staffed, AFSCME 3299 also plans to have some workers ready for emergency surgeries.

“AFSCME Local 3299 members will be organizing a Patient Protection Task Force that is prepared to respond to requests for emergency patient care assistance from striking workers, should UC’s strike contingency measures break down,” stated AFSCME 3299 Communications Director John de los Angeles in the press release.

Furthermore, UCSD Health Volunteer Services requested its volunteers for additional hours during the strike days. An email sent to volunteers states, “UC San Diego Health expects to provide excellent health care services without interruption. Patient care remains the highest priority.”  

The email warned that “the multi-day strike activities may cause delays with parking for patients, visitors, volunteers and team members,” and suggested volunteers to give themselves extra time for parking and check-in.  

The email confirmed that the strike is related to contract negotiations between unions and and the entire UC system.  “It is important that complaints or issues from patients, guests and team members related to the strike be reported through the appropriate chain of command. Security will be tracking complaints/issues related to noise and disruptions of care and may be reached at 619-543-3762.”

Cindy Zhan is a Staff Writer for The Triton.