“We would recommend Huffmaster to anyone in the healthcare industry.”
-Patient Flow Director, UC Irvine
The University of California health system operates seven hospitals at five academic medical centers across the state. Each medical center, specializing in complex care, serves as the teaching site of the medical schools at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UCSD and UCSF. Nationally-recognized for the quality of their care, UC Health and its medical centers form a more than $10 billion enterprise with more than 4.5 million outpatient visits, 356,000 emergency room visits, and 165,000 inpatient admissions annually. UC Health also staffs five Level 1 trauma centers that often provide the only trauma care in their regions.
In May 2018, nearly 53,000 UC Health employees held a three-day strike at all five UC medical centers, after AFSCME 3299 rejected the university’s last-and-best offer during contract negotiations. Unexpectedly, 15,000 University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) and 14,000 California Nurses Association (CNA) members joined the 24,000 striking AFSCME members in solidarity. UC Health’s contracted replacement staffing agencies were unprepared to recruit replacement nursing staff on such short notice, forcing services and surgeries at many UC facilities to be delayed and diverted. After the May strike, AFSCME 3299 had no plans to return to the bargaining table.
Having dealt with multiple strikes in recent years, the University of California knew first-hand the importance of staying ahead of potential labor action, and revisited their contingency plans. With no contract resolution in sight, the UC medical centers invited Huffmaster to provide replacement personnel in the event of another health system-wide strike.
In August 2018, UC San Diego began working with Huffmaster to staff their two hospitals for a strike anticipated to take place in late September, again involving the CNA, UPTE and AFSCME unions. In early September, UC Health engaged Huffmaster to additionally staff their Irvine and Davis medical centers when their replacement staffing agencies from the May strike backed out. Huffmaster successfully recruited 700 nurses and 500 allied, technical and service personnel for the anticipated strike. With less negotiating power than in May, the CNA came to a five-year contract agreement just two weeks before the strike date. AFSCME issued their 10-day notice on October 12, and Huffmaster was able to mobilize the needed 500 allied, technical and service personnel at four UC hospitals across three cities for an October 22 strike date.
Unlike nurses, most allied personnel do not strike professionally and are less willing to cross a picket line. Without a need to keep their files up-to-date or easily accessible, it is much more difficult to find allied personnel who are willing and qualified to work a strike. With years of experience staffing allied and technical strikes, Huffmaster has developed a robust database of highly qualified and credentialed allied and technical personnel, unlike our strike nursing competitors.
Leading up to the three-day labor action, Huffmaster worked closely with the leadership at each of the four facilities to ensure all replacement personnel met the compliance standards of UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCSD individually. During the strike, Huffmaster transported replacements to not only the hospitals, but also dozens of satellite facilities around the state, ensuring all locations were fully staffed. A testament to the importance of contingency planning and partnering with a leading strike management company, Huffmaster ensured the UC health system was able to continue to provide the high caliber of care their communities expect and deserve.
At the end of the strike, AFSCME did not resume negotiations with the UC health system and did not come to a resolution. With the high likelihood of another strike in early 2019 on the horizon, Huffmaster stands prepared to support each of the UC health system’s medical facilities.