OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — The union representing nearly 13,000 workers at University of California hospitals announced Tuesday that its members have authorized a strike amid stalled contract talks.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 said in a statement that thousands of members who voted last week at five UC hospitals and at health centers on all 10 UC campuses approved a potential strike at a rate of 97 percent. The statement didn’t say exactly how many members voted.

The employees, including radiology and surgical technicians, patient care assistants, vocational nurses and custodians, have been working without a contract since October.

“Our members take pride in their work, love the UC and stand united behind the principles of safe staffing and basic fairness for which we have bargained in good faith for almost a year,” president of the local, Kathryn Lybarger, said in the statement.

The vote was “a resounding rejection of the UC’s misguided priorities — chronic understaffing, reckless cost-cutting, skyrocketing management payroll, and exorbitant seven figure pensions for top executives,” Lybarger said.

University of California officials said in a statement when the strike vote was announced that it was an attempt to divert attention from the key issue, the union’s refusal to sign on to UC pension reforms that many other bargaining units have already agreed to. The UC also said the union was inappropriately attempting to use a patient care as a bargaining tool and potentially endangering public health.

The union held a five-day walkout during its last contract talks in 2008.

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