Union workers walk the picket line at UC San Diego Medical Center Hillcrest in May. — John Gibbins
Union workers walk the picket line at UC San Diego Medical Center Hillcrest in May. — John Gibbins

By Paul Sisson

UC San Diego Health System has rescheduled hundreds of elective surgeries in preparation for a strike Wednesday.

The one-day strike is threatened by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents more than 21,000 technical and service workers at University of California medical facilities statewide.

Though most services will continue to be available at university hospitals, including the La Jolla and Hillcrest locations in San Diego, procedures previously scheduled for Wednesday have been moved to other days, UC San Diego Health System spokeswoman Jacqueline Carr said in an email.

“We started canceling out-of-state surgery patients last week,” Carr said, referring to people from other states who were to come to San Diego for treatment.

A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court where the state labor relations board, at the behest of the university, will ask a judge for a restraining order that would limit the number of employees in “critical health and safety roles” that could strike Wednesday.

In a competing statement issued Monday afternoon, the union noted that it has already planned to keep critical workers off the picket lines to ensure that patients are not affected.

The courts granted a similar restraining order the last time union members walked the picket line for two days in May. Workers set to strike include technical workers, who operate equipment like X-ray and ultrasound machines, pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists and sterilization technicians who prepare surgical instruments.

The two sides disagree on the reasons for the strike. They have been in contract negotiations for the past 18 months but have been unable to come to agreement on issues ranging from wages and benefits to staffing levels.

[Source]: UT San Diego