Dr. John Stobo, senior vice president for Health Sciences and Services, made the following statement today (May 17) about the human impact of a strike scheduled for next week at University of California medical centers:

“We will do everything possible to ensure the safety of patients at UC hospitals, and that will cost up to $20 million across the five UC medical centers. But the real cost is the human one. If employees represented by AFSCME and UPTE strike, it will mean cancer patients may have their chemotherapy curtailed. It will mean a burn victim may have to be diverted from the UC Davis burn treatment center. It will mean someone suffering from chest pains may have to travel an additional 15 minutes for treatment because a UC emergency room is backed up for lack of staff.

“At the regents meeting this week, AFSCME representatives shouted, ‘Shame on you.’ I say, Shame on them. Shame on them for jeopardizing health services that people need and deserve. It is completely inappropriate to threaten services to patients as a negotiating tactic — the health of our patients must not be held hostage. If union members are as concerned with patient safety as they claim, why strike? How does that help anyone? What will happen to people who need care?

“To resolve pension and other outstanding labor issues, the union leadership should return to the bargaining table rather than force UC medical centers to curtail services. There are no ‘ifs,’ ‘ands’ or ‘buts’ about it. If union-represented employees strike, people will suffer.”