Physicians who practice at student health clinics on the 10 campuses of the University of California system raised concerns about staffing, student health fees and unfair labor practices during their first contract negotiations with the system.
Approximately 150 doctors represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists staged a one-day strike Tuesday at several UC campuses. The union also filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state's Public Employment Relations Board asking to see how various campus chancellors' discretionary funds are being spent, said Dr. Stuart Bussey, the union's president. A UC spokeswoman said the university hasn't received notice of a formal complaint.
Shelly Meron, a spokeswoman for the UC president's office, said administrators are convinced that the strike is not about unfair labor practices. She accused the union of using their claims as a “negotiation tool” to gain higher wages.
“We think the best way to negotiate these practices is not at the picket line, and certainly not in the media,” Meron said.
Bussey said that the labor-management conflict is not about wages. Meron, however, said the union's latest proposal asked for a 3.5% raise upon ratification of its current contract and an annual 3% raise over the following four years. The doctors currently make at least $150,000 a year, she said.
The union has no plans for any further disruptive action, Bussey said. “This is a shot across the bow to tell them that we want information so that we can help get the staffing and services for these services,” he said.
Though the strike lasted for only a day, Bussey said it was likely the first time licensed physicians had held a strike in the last 25 years. The union organized the previously non-unionized UC doctors only a year ago.
Unionized doctors are rare. UAPD claims to be the largest post-graduate union in the country, representing about 4,000 doctors, mostly in California. Bussey estimated that only about 2.5% of all U.S. doctors are unionized.
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