Despite more than a year of bargaining, a two-day strike and union accusations that its medical facilities are understaffed and poorly managed, the University of California's contract talks for its 15,000 hospital workers remain deadlocked.
Now the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 says it's prepared to make concessions on pensions, including higher contributions from all workers and later retirement ages for future hires, but it wants the UC to hire more hospital employees and cap high-end pensions.
"This is a well-reasoned, good-faith compromise," said Local 3299 spokesman Todd Stenhouse, " and they refused to move."
The university system counters that the union didn't make a formal written proposal and that, regardless, the deal would still be more generous than what other UC employees receive.
UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein also rejected AFSCME's claim that UC hospitals are understaffed and unsafe, noting in an email to The State Worker that staffing levels at the five facilities each rose between 6 percent (UC San Diego) and 21 percent (UCLA) over the last five years.
"If, in fact, we had dangerously low staffing levels - as AFSCME claims - we would not be operating," Klein said, noting that the hospital industry is "highly regulated" with "rigorous standards."
PHOTO: Protesters rally in front of the Sacramento Convention Center as they support University of California employees in AFSCME 3299 as UC regents meet on May 15, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua