Complaint: UC hospital employees threatened for going on strike

A union has filed a complaint against the University of California hospital system, alleging that the hospitals illegally threatened employees during a two-day strike last spring. A hospital spokesperson has denied the allegations, stating that the hospitals did not violate employment laws in the days leading up to and during the strike.

The strike took place during two days in May of this year when several thousand hospital workers walked out of UC medical facilities in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Santa Monica. The motivation for the strike was reportedly pension and staffing issues. Reports indicate that emergency rooms remained open, as hospital nurses did not go on strike. However, non-essential surgeries were reportedly postponed.

Now, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, better known as AFSCME, has filed a complaint with the California Public Employment Relations Board.  AFSCME reportedly represents approximately 13,000 nursing and operating room assistants, hospital pharmacists and similar hospital employees in California and across the country.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the hospital employees were questioned by superiors about their participation in the strike, informed that the days of work that they missed for the strike would not be considered “authorized,” and even threatened with disciplinary action.

It is unlikely that this dispute will end in a major class action lawsuit, since an administrative process already exists to resolve it. The state board has issued a complaint against and scheduled a settlement conference with UC in an effort to force the hospital to answer to AFSCME’s allegations. If the settlement conference does not successfully resolve the issues that are alleged in the complaint, it will be decided by an administrative law judge following an evidentiary hearing.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “UC medical workers allege unfair labor practice,” Sept. 17, 2013

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