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UC San Francisco layoffs target of rally by union, officials

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UCSF is planning on cutting nearly 300 positions. - SMI23LE/FLICKR
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  • UCSF is planning on cutting nearly 300 positions.

State and local officials are joining UC San Francisco Medical Center employees today for a rally to protest against the decision to cut nearly 300 positions.

The medical center says the staff reductions are being made to prepare for costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health care reform signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

The union representing many of the employees who may lose their jobs said the workers directly associated with patients — including pharmacy technicians, hospitality assistance and nurses with extended tenure — are the positions being eliminated, and as a result the patients will suffer.

A report released last week by the union claims that within UCSF there are “documented problems ranging from preventable infections and skyrocketing executive pay.”

“It’s shocking to me that we’re seeing layoffs come in the wake of a report that says they need to be staffing up the care for patients,” said AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger.

In a released statement, Ken Jones, chief operating officer of the medical center, said the layoffs were announced in October, months before the report came out.

“One of the primary mandates arising from health care reform is to advance the quality and safety of patient care, but at lower costs. Hospitals across the country are facing these pressures, and UCSF Medical Center is no exception,” Jones stated.

Jones said the Affordable Care Act, reductions in Medicare and Medi-Cal, and increased costs of pensions affected the decision.

“We must make a ‘course correction’ if we are to maintain our resources to care for our patients,” he said.

But Lybarger said that with an expected increase in patients, it’s not the time to be laying off those who interact with them.

The jobs lost will come through a combination of layoffs, transfers and the elimination of unfilled positions.

Additionally, the union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the university, saying officials did not “confer in good faith with AFSCME about workforce reductions.”

The university employs roughly 8,000 people at several locations. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar are expected to attend the rally.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com