The five University of California medical centers are starting to cancel
elective surgeries as they face a possible two-day strike by employees,
The elective procedures scheduled for next week will be delayed until after the potential strike, which is set for Tuesday and Wednesday, hospital officials said.
The union, which represents 13,000 nursing assistants, scanning technicians, operating room scrubs and respiratory experts who are threatening to strike, said it will keep employees in critical areas such as burn and neonatal units.
In the case of a medical emergency, some strikers would go back to work temporarily, union officials said.
"The most important thing here is that patient safety be preserved," Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the Los Angeles Times.
But hospital officials said the strike could endanger patients and temporary replacement workers will have to be hired -- which would cost at least $15 million in lost revenue and pay over two days.
Union officials said they want negotiations to focus on increasing staffing levels, while the hospital administration said the union refused to accept a new, necessary pension plan.
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