The California labor board has informed the University of California that it intends to seek a temporary restraining order to limit the number of union employees planning to hold a one-day strike Nov. 20 at UC's five medical centers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, which represents more than 21,000 UC patient care technical and service employees, announced it is asking members to strike at UC medical centers and campuses Nov. 20.

The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) informed UC that it will seek a temporary restraining order in Sacramento County Superior Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19. Its request will focus on employees working in critical health and safety roles that are difficult to replace.

PERB's decision came after UC representatives argued that having certain essential employees go out on strike poses an imminent threat to public health and safety.

The California Nurses Association which represents nearly 12,000 UC nurses, formally withdrew its intent to strike in sympathy after the university and nurses' union reached a comprehensive tentative agreement over the weekend.

UC patient care technical employees include technicians responsible for operating equipment for ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, mammograms and other tests; radiation therapists who prepare and treat cancer patients; pharmacy technicians who deliver medications to patients; respiratory therapists who help patients with breathing and treatment plans; and technicians who sterilize equipment used in surgeries.

UC is executing plans and making advance preparations to ensure all its hospitals stay open and quality patient care is delivered during the strike.

However, a strike will have a negative impact on patients at the medical centers and student health centers. Some elective surgeries, including pediatric surgery and neurosurgery, scheduled for Nov. 20 have been postponed. Diagnoses and treatments for adults and children may be delayed because laboratory tests, imaging and other work normally performed by patient care employees may not be completed in a timely manner.

"It is a shame AFSCME is putting patients and students in the middle of this," said Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for systemwide human resources. "We urge the union's leadership to call off this strike and put patients and students first. They should come back to the table immediately and show some real flexibility, as the university has, so we can come to an agreement that's fair for all employees as soon as possible."

UC pursued a temporary restraining order against AFSCME's May strike and successfully secured an injunction that ensured that some of the most critical patient care technical staff did not strike.

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