Doctors who work at University of California student health centers are staging a rare four-day strike to protest what they claim is the university's failure to negotiate a labor contract in good faith.
Staff physicians at the university's five Northern California campuses walked off their jobs on Thursday morning and plan to return on Monday morning. Doctors at the five campuses in Southern California are scheduled to strike from Saturday until Wednesday.
The health centers will remain open during the work stoppages and managers will be tasked with treating patients, although students may need to reschedule routine visits and pass through picket lines, university spokeswoman Shelly Meron said.
The 150 dentists, podiatrists and physicians are negotiating their first contract since they joined the Union of American Physicians and Dentists in 2013. They also staged a one-day strike in January.
Union spokeswoman Suzanne Wilson said the UC strikes are the first in the organization's 40-year history.
"As far as bargaining goes, UC had ample opportunity to settle the open issues after the last strike, but they chose not to," Wilson said. "Unfortunately UC has a pattern of requiring multiple strikes from its workers.
The union said it called on its members to strike because the university hasn't turned over information negotiators requested about how the university funded the 20 percent salary increases it awarded to five campus chancellors in September.
UC Vice President for Human Resources Dwaine Duckett disputed the claim.
"We disagree with the union's claims that these strikes are about unfair labor practice charges. The union has refused to discuss these alleged practices at the bargaining table," Duckett said.
Meron said most health center doctors earn $150,000 a year and that those salaries are competitive with what other colleges pay.