UC Doctors Strike for Increased Transparency

Unionized doctors from all 10 University of California campuses went on a four-day strike last week, demanding the university to bargain with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists according to standard and legal labor practices. This marked the longest doctor strike against a U.S. employer in 25 years.

UCSD physician Dr. Amol Doshi, who is a member of the union’s bargaining team, informed the UCSD Guardian that the university has committed illegal bargaining actions by withholding information from the union.

“Doctors have asked for financial information from the university, such as where they found the $57 million they used to fix the student insurance program that they mismanaged, because we think that the money could be put to better use to improve student health services,” Doshi said. “But the UC Office of the President will not give us that information.”

Moreover, UC Berkeley physician Dr. Jeffrey Nelson, who also serves on the bargaining team, thinks that the overall goal of improving health services for students is enough to justify the strike.

“I do understand it might inconvenience some patients … but I feel like the greater issue of making sure they have good student health is important enough for a few days of inconvenience,” Nelson told the San Francisco Gate.

The UC’s Vice President for Human Resources Dwaine B. Duckett discredited UAPD’s claims about the university’s bargaining conduct.

“We disagree with the union’s claims that these strikes are about unfair labor practice charges,” Duckett said in an April 3 press release. “The union has refused to discuss these alleged practices at the bargaining table.”

Furthermore, Duckett reported that the university has found common ground with UAPD.

“The university and the union have made progress at the bargaining table and reached tentative agreements on most noneconomic issues,” Duckett said. “UC has offered wage proposals and the same competitive healthcare and retirement benefits provided to non-represented UC employees.”

The Southern California campuses — UCSD, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara — began striking last Saturday at 7 a.m. with their doctors returning to work on Wednesday. 

The Northern California campuses — UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced and UC San Francisco — held their strikes a bit earlier with it commencing last Thursday at 7 a.m. and ending on Monday, April 13.

According to media specialist at the UC Office of the President Shelly Meron, about half of the UAPD members who were scheduled to work at the UCSD student health center showed up to work.

UCSD’s Student Health Director of Medical Services Stacie San Miguel told the Guardian that the strike did not have a significant impact on UCSD’s medical centers.

“The strike has not affected our ability to provide health services for UCSD students,” Miguel said. “During the strike, we continued to provide all of the services that we normally provide.”

The university has publicly expressed its displeasure with the union’s decision to strike again. 

We are disappointed that the union has chosen to stage strikes for the second time in three months instead of negotiating to resolve the remaining issues,” Duckett said. “Strikes that negatively impact our students will not resolve a labor dispute.”