SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Pension reform and staffing levels are the big issues as thousands of workers at the University of California’s five medical centers vote on a potential strike.

After working without a contract since last fall, UC medical center workers statewide began voting Tuesday. The union claimed the sticking point is staffing levels, while the university maintains the issue is pension reform.

13,000 MRI techs, nursing aides, or assistants and other workers at the university’s five medical centers have said they are being made to do more with less.

Todd Stenhouse with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees local 3299, questioned the resources available in case of an emergency.

“When your grandmother’s in a room and starts to push the call button is somebody going to get there right away to help them to the bathroom? Are the corridors in the rooms as clean as they need to be?” Stenhouse said.

UC spokeswoman Diane Klein said the proposal they have offered has been generous.

“Annual wage increases of up to 3.5 percent for the next four years. These increases are on top of the five percent pay increases that these employees have received in the past two years,” Klein said.

The workers taking the vote include 2,400 at UCSF and 2,600 at UC Davis, along with thousands of employees at UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego. Voting continues until Thursday, with results expected next week.

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