College health workers stage the first doctors' strike in 25 years

About 150 doctors walk out for one day

About 150 doctors at the University of California's (UC) student health centers staged a one-day strike over alleged unfair labor practices on Tuesday—marking the first time licensed doctors went on strike in the United States in 25 years.

Related: Adjuncts' efforts to unionize surge after NLRB decision

The doctors are members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which is in the middle of contract negotiations with the university system. The union has been negotiating its first contract since 2013 and has filed several unfair labor practice complaints against UC.

The union alleges that the UC system has participated in unfair labor practices and bad-faith contract negotiations. Union spokesperson Sue Wilson says that the university system allegedly has withheld information that could assist in the negotiations.

During a UC Board of Regents meeting, union President Stuart Bussey urged officials to examine the issue, adding, "Until now, we have never needed to strike to get fair treatment for doctors."

The daylong strike affected 10 UC student health clinics, but the clinics will remain open. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the centers will be staffed by management and non-union workers However, some non-emergency appointments might be rescheduled.

However, UC spokesperson Shelly Meron says that the allegations have not been proved, noting that its most recent contract proposal—which includes an immediate 3.5% wage increase—is fair. She says, "The main sticking point in all of this is wages, and our latest proposal has raises that we feel are fair. The issues don't warrant a strike that will impact students" (Dobuzinskis, Reuters, 1/28; AP/U-T San Diego, 1/26; Murphy, San Jose Mercury News, 1/26; Williams, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).

The takeaway: The first doctors' strike in the United States in 25 years happened on a college campus and focused on prolonged contract negations that began in 2013 and complaints of unfair labor practices.


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