WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Family members of patients receiving care at UCLA Monday were among those awaiting the planned strikes scheduled to start early Tuesday morning.
“It should be about the patient and patient care,” said Sheri Holman, whose son is a patient at UCLA Medical Center.
She drove from San Bernardino to Westwood upon hearing the news of the impending strike.
“I was concerned about him getting proper care, getting his medication on time,” said Holman.
Officials at UCLA and UC Irvine were preparing for a planned strike by healthcare workers at five of the biggest medical centers in the University of California system. The strike is set to begin at 4a.m. on Tuesday morning.
The fight is over pensions and staffing levels, which the union says have been reduced to dangerous levels.
“We don’t want to have to be here,” said Scott Hill, a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, the union representing 13,000 healthcare workers.
“We wish that they would come to the table, bargain with us in good faith.”
It’s still unclear exactly how many workers will be striking. A judge ruled Monday that laboratory technicians, pharmacists and respiratory therapists must work through the strike, amounting to 453 workers who cannot strike, according to officials.
“We are very disappointed, as are the UC officials, that the Union has elected to put patients potentially in the way of their own economic interests,” said Dr. Thomas Rosenthal, UCLA Chief Medical Officer.
Still, UC officials said the cost of insuring public safety during the strike will cost $20 million. A total of 550 replacement workers are scheduled to fill in for the striking workers Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s a little scary,” said Marty Barrozo, whose husband is being treated at UCLA for a head injury.
“I just hope that things are settled soon,” said Holman.
“Business is business but a life is a life.”