Alta Bates Implements Parts of Rejected Contract, Will Not Withhold Union Dues From Paychecks
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center officials have begun implementing parts of a final contract offer that unionized workers in June "overwhelmingly rejected," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Raine, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18).
Alta Bates employees, who are represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 250, in June announced that 90% of voting employees rejected the Sutter Health facility's proposal for a new contract. About 800 of 1,200 eligible members voted over two days. Union leadership said the contract proposal was not as attractive as those recently bargained with Catholic Healthcare West and Kaiser Permanente, even though it included a $2,000 ratification bonus.
The old contract expired April 30. As the contract was about to expire, Alta Bates negotiators clashed with SEIU representatives because hospital officials wanted to focus discussions on wages and workers' benefits, but union leaders wanted to expand talks to address their established priorities. Alta Bates offered an annual 3% salary increase over the next five years for most employees represented by SEIU and a salary increase for licensed vocational nurses of 8% in the first year and 3% in subsequent years (California Healthline, 6/7).
Alta Bates officials said they have not had "meaningful negotiations" with the union since the vote to reject the contract, according to the Chronicle. Local 250 President Sal Roselli said the union is seeking a contract that would establish a patient care committee to improve staffing ratios and make decisions about patient care.
Alta Bates hospital managers plan to implement a 4% wage increase for workers and will no longer deduct union dues from employees' paychecks. Alta Bates said its obligation to withdraw union dues ended when the old contract expired. Local 250 employees pay $53.75 per month, or $830,000 annually (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18).
In addition, licensed vocational nurses and licensed psychiatric nurses will receive a 9% pay increase. Under the contract, workers also will receive fully paid health coverage and some other benefits, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 8/19).
Roselli said, "We spend a lot more of our members' dollars struggling with Sutter Corporation than Sutter workers pay in dues." He added, "We're trying to force change in the way they provide health care."
Alta Bates spokesperson Carolyn Kemp said, "Our focus remains getting a contract with employees with wages and benefits they deserve" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18).