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UC Protesters Shut Down Westwood And Wilshire, 25 Arrested

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A protest by University of California hospital workers shut down a busy intersection in Westwood Friday afternoon during afternoon rush-hour traffic.

The demonstration began at about 2:30 p.m. on Friday, according to City News Service. Dozens of protesters blocked traffic by sitting in a circle in the middle of the intersection at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards. Officers issued a notice to disperse about 4 p.m., and then began making arrests.

The demonstration was in reaction to UC announcement it was making a final offer to its workers in AFSCME 3299, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees which represents about 12,000 UC patient care workers, according to The Daily Bruin.

The protesters chanted, among other things, "UC, UC, you're no good, treat your workers like you should," the Daily Bruin reports.

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The protesters included Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, who was not among the 25 arrested, according to CNS.

The protest stemmed from a stalemate in contract talks between AFSCME and the University of California over pensions, wages and claims by the union that UC medical facilities are understaffed and poorly managed.

An article on the union's site when they held a two-day struck in May claimed that a lack of funds and support has led to "unsanitary operating tables, broken equipment, chronic understaffing and deteriorating hospital conditions that put patients in harm's way."

UC spokesman Steve Montiel told KNX 1070 that the system is waiting for written contract offers that include pension reform: "We would welcome getting back to the bargaining table, that's still an option, we're waiting for some written contract offers. The main issue here is pension reform."

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The protest drew plenty of coverage, if not much sympathy from those commuters caught in traffic.