May 242013


Filipino hospital staffers at strike picket line in front of the University of California Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles. Photo by Hiyasmin Quijano

LOS ANGELES, California–Filipino-American workers and students joined a two-day strike in front of the University of California Ronald Reagan Medical Center to “get priorities straight.”

After ten months of negotiations, UC patient technical workers continue to bargain for enforceable safe staffing standards to protect patient care, a stop to outsourcing frontline care to less-experienced workers, fair wages to afford sending their own children to the University of California and a stop to oversized executive entitlements.

Medical center works say hundreds are being laid off, schedules reduced and less-experienced providers being hired.

Thousands of UC Medical patient care workers voted 97 percent in favor of the May 21-22 job stoppage. The strikers included respiratory therapists, nursing aides, radiologists, certified nursing assistants, MRI technologists, licensed vocational nurses, surgical technicians, diagnostic sonographers, pathology lab technicians, pharmacy technicians, or technicians and others staff members.

UC Medical Centers serve approximately four million people annually.

“I’m here for my patient. A lot of us are overworked because we’re also given on-call assignments. So sometimes we are working all week. We also never get released on time because there’s not enough staff to relieve us,” states Jing Ulamgkang.

Staffers complain that over-scheduling, causes stress and exhaustion for care providers and delays for patients.

“It all boils down to patient safety and care–we are one of the biggest O.R. departments in Los Angeles. I have many rooms to manage and most of the time no one to assist me when I need extra help because everyone is busy,” states John Estal.

Care providers complain that an emphasis on cutting costs also undermines patient care quality. One operating room assistant frequently hears that she must “hustle” because the operating room “costs $260 a minute.”

“As a student organizing with a student labor group we understand the university exists for the student because of the worker,” states student Camila Lacquers. “It’s our responsibility to support who makes our education happen.”

Patient care advocates charge that administrative decisions prioritize UC’s profit margins over patients’ health. The UC Medical System earns $6.9 billion in operating revenues and hundreds of millions in profits.

UC has not agreed to any strike demands.

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Tags: hospital strikes , Hospitals , Medical industry , patient care

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