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UCLA student health center to remain open during strike by union doctors

Union members say the strike is to protest the UC administration's refusal to provide financial information they need to negotiate contracts. (Thinkstock)
Union members say the strike is to protest the UC administration’s refusal to provide financial information they need to negotiate contracts. (Thinkstock)

Student health centers at five University of California campuses in Southern California will remain open today in spite of a strike by union doctors and dentists from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

The health care providers walked out of the health clinics at UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara on Saturday as part of a rolling strike that began in Northern and Central California on Thursday. Union members say the strike is to protest the UC administration’s refusal to provide financial information they need to negotiate contracts.

Picket lines will be up at UCLA from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UCLA Ashe Student Health Wellness Center at 221 Westwood Plaza, the union said. The Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents doctors and dentists at UC student health centers, plans a midday rally at the UCLA campus today during the university’s “Bruin Day” open house event.

The union planned to have doctors in lab coats on a picket line at UCLA and says doctors and dentists from UCLA will be joined by their counterparts from UC campuses at Irvine, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Barbara. A similar walkout started last week in the Bay Area.

The doctors and dentists “will be joined by UC students, fellow UC workers, and concerned community members,” said Sue Wilson of  the Union of American Physicians and Dentists. Flying above the picket line will be a plane towing a banner in support of the striking doctors, she said.

The UCLA protest is aimed to convey information “about the important role that student health centers play on campus” and about unfair labor practices,as a new class of students and their parents tour the UCLA campus, Wilson said.

Last week, a UC spokesman said the state is “disappointed” by the strike, which is billed as the first job action by medical doctors in the United States in 25 years.

Dwaine B. Duckett, UC’s vice president for human resources, vowed that the schools are “taking appropriate steps to ensure our students will have uninterrupted access to the medical services they need at our campus health centers during these strikes.”

In a statement, he urged employees to cross picket lines “and continue serving the students who rely on them for care. Strikes that negatively impact our students will not resolve a labor dispute.”

The union maintains that the UC system has not remedied any of the unfair labor practice charges that the union has filed during the negotiations for a first contact for student health center doctors, Wilson said.

UC emphasized that the strike affects the student health centers only and not the UC training hospitals and their associated medical insurance, HMO and private insurance centers.

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