Doctors at UC student health clinics start strike

UC student health clinic doctors allege unfair labor practices and hold 2nd walkout this year

Unionized doctors began a rolling strike Thursday at student health clinics on UC campuses, accusing the university of unfair labor practices during negotiations for the physicians’ first contract.

The walkout started early Thursday morning at five Northern and Central California campuses -- Berkeley, Davis, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Merced -- and is scheduled to last four days.

On Saturday, the doctors, dentists and podiatrists are expected to begin a four-day strike at the southern UC campuses at UCLA, San Diego, Irvine, Riverside and Santa Barbara. 

UC officials said management doctors and others would provide replacement services so that the walkout would affect students as little as possible. Some nonurgent appointments already had been shifted to other days. The union said it gave the campuses plenty of notice so the clinics could plan to minimize the walkout’s effect on students.

The 130 or so members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists previously held a one-day strike in late January at all 10 UC campuses. The UC doctors were unionized in 2013.

Union spokeswoman Sue Wilson said the walkout is meant to protest, among other things, what she described as the UC administration’s refusal to provide enough financial information about the university’s resources that might affect the contract bargaining and increase health clinic staffing.

By not divulging the information, UC leaders show that “they think they are above the law—that’s why doctors are on the picket line today,” Dr. Stuart Bussey, president of the union, said in a statement. 

Dwaine B. Duckett, UC’s vice president for human resources, said UC officials wish the union had continued to negotiate rather than call the second strike so far this year. 

“Strikes that negatively impact our students will not resolve a labor dispute,” he said in a statement, adding that he thought the strike was really about the contract talks on pay issues rather than the allegations of unfair labor practices.

Most of the doctors, dentists and podiatrists at the student health clinics are paid at least $150,000 a year, according to UC officials. The union declined to provide pay details but said the clinics are having trouble retaining and recruiting doctors and that students face long waits for some services.

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