UCSF optometrists and their supporters took to the picket lines on Tuesday, engaging in a strike against the University of California (UC) due to what they perceive as unfair labor practices. The union representing the optometrists has called out the UC system for its conduct during contract negotiations, leading to similar pickets at UC Davis and UCLA. This strike is anticipated to continue into Wednesday, after which the optometrists plan to resume their work.
In light of these events, Ginger Conejero Saab provides a comprehensive report in the accompanying video.
On Tuesday, the University of California released a statement in response to the strike. The statement emphasized the UC’s commitment to respecting the rights of employees to organize and engaging in good faith bargaining with unions, including the University Professional and Technical Employees Union (UPTE). It highlighted that the UC and UPTE already have a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in place. While negotiations for the terms and conditions of the CBA are scheduled for this summer, the current focus is on integrating approximately 80 optometrists into the UPTE unit. The University did not oppose UPTE’s petition to include these 83 positions in its Health Care Professionals (HX) unit in 2022, recognizing the crucial services they provide to patients. Meetings between the UC and UPTE have been held 11 times since the start of 2023 to address issues related to this integration.
During the limited integration bargaining process, progress has been made on some matters, such as incentive compensation. However, there are remaining unresolved items. The University believes that the existing bargaining processes and channels are sufficient to facilitate fair and honest negotiations on critical issues and allow both sides to reach mutually beneficial agreements. Consequently, the UC expresses disappointment in the optometrists added to the HX unit for choosing to engage in this work stoppage from February 6-8. Furthermore, the University asserts that the planned action by UTPE is unlawful as their contract contains a no-strike clause that prohibits work stoppages and mandates the prevention of disruptive behavior. Violation of this clause undermines mutual respect, generates unnecessary adversity, and impacts the continuity of care for California patients seeking optometry services.
Despite the ongoing strike, the University remains steadfast in its belief that it is an exceptional employer for healthcare professionals. It emphasizes its dedication to conducting negotiations in good faith and reaching an agreement regarding the integration of these optometrists into the current HX CBA. The UC aims to ensure that these healthcare professionals feel valued and recognize their essential role within the labor force. Ongoing bargaining will continue both in the present and during the full collective bargaining negotiations scheduled for this summer. The responsibility of notifying affected patients is handled independently by each location, ensuring that patient care remains a priority throughout this period of labor unrest.