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Calif. hospital strike averted by contract deal

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A planned strike by thousands of University of California hospital workers was averted after contract talks yielded a deal, officials said Sunday.

The proposed four-year contract will keep 13,000 patient care technical workers on the job at five major medical centers, said Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299.

The workers, who include respiratory therapists and surgical technicians, had planned to strike early Monday.

The workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a five-day strike after the hospital system decided to impose new contract terms that included broad layoff powers, Stenhouse said.

The new deal includes fair wage increases, secure benefits, staffing protections and meets the university's aspirations for pension reform, union officials said.

It was reached after hospital officials and workers resumed bargaining Friday night and still must be ratified by union members, Stenhouse said.

“Our members are looking forward to ratifying this agreement, returning to work, and doing what they do best _ caring for patients,” Kathryn Lybarger, president of the local, said in a statement.

University of California officials also welcomed the deal that ended two years of arduous contract negotiations.

“There was true compromise by both sides,” Dwaine Duckett, UC vice president for human resources, said in a statement. “The agreement also allows our medical centers and student health centers to continue to deliver the quality care our patients and students depend on without any interruptions.”

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