Alameda County Workers Reach Agreement, Avert Strike
Averting a potential strike Thursday, union negotiators for 2,300 workers at the Alameda County Medical Center tentatively agreed late Sunday night to a contract with the county, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The scheduled 24-hour strike at Highland Hospital and other county public health facilities was one of 19 planned throughout the state by the Service Employees International Union. While the other 18 are still set for Thursday, union leaders in Alameda County "urged their rank and file to ratify a contract tomorrow that gives them a 14% pay increase over the three-year life of the agreement." The contract also will establish a committee to hear workers' concerns about staffing needs and patient care.
"This gives workers a way to resolve issues, and it offers feedback from management," Brad Cleveland, spokesperson for SEIU Local 616 in Oakland, said (Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12). He added, "There was a really desire on both sides to settle the contract. Nobody wanted a strike." The Contra Costa Times reports that a strike at Highland Hospital and Fairmont Hospital, Alameda County's only two hospitals, would have had a "tremendous impact" because it "would have included registered nurses." Medical center officials were set on Monday to go to court to prevent the planned walk-out, calling it an "illegal strike" that would "cripple" the county's health system (Holbrook, Contra Costa Times, 12/12). Dr. Roger Peeks, Alameda County Medical Center's interim CEO, said that he anticipates that the board of trustees will sign the contract.
While Alameda County will not face a disruption in its hospitals, one-day strikes at 16 Bay area hospitals and two Southern California hospitals "appear almost certain." Roughly 6,000 members of the SEIU are targeting facilities owned by Catholic Healthcare West and Sutter Health over staffing issues. The strike would be the fifth organized by the union this year, a prospect that has left management at CHW and Sutter "far from happy." CHW said in a statement, "This irresponsible action has the potential of putting the public health at risk should some major catastrophe occur." The company announced that in the event of a strike, emergency rooms at San Francisco's St. Mary's and St. Francis Hospitals and Daly City's Seton Medical Center will remain open (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.