BAY AREA: Hospital Workers Threaten to Strike Tomorrow
Unless an agreement is reached by midnight tonight between members of the Service Employees International Union Local 250, Catholic Healthcare West and Sutter Health, about 3,400 health care workers from eight Bay Area hospitals will walk off the job Wednesday, the Contra Costa Times reports. Last month, 4,000 workers at 10 hospitals in the Bay Area walked off the job. If no agreements on "staffing issues" are reached in this instance, union members, including technicians, respiratory therapists, licensed vocational nurses, housekeepers and clerks will picket Wednesday and Thursday, but will return to work Friday. The union wants guarantees that workers will be transferred or retained rather than laid off and is pushing for workers to have a voice in staffing level requirements, with the option of outside arbitration if workers and management cannot agree. Sutter Health management and union members were talked Monday, but Catholic Healthcare West has no contract talks scheduled. Union spokesperson Christy Hawkins said, "Management at Catholic Healthcare West walked away from the bargaining table. They're virtually assuring a walkout at those hospitals" (8/1). Sutter Health and CHW officials have said that the union is "embarking on a reckless campaign." CHW Vice President Robert Polzoni said, "The union is much bigger than we are. Striking Bay Area hospitals we believe is irresponsible. If there's any kind of catastrophe that happens on Aug. 2, it puts the public at great risk. A lot can happen in two days" (Pimentel, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/31). The eight hospitals that could be affected are: Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, Sutter Lakeside in Lakeport, St. Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco and Seton Medical Center in Daly City (Contra Costa Times, 8/1).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.