BAY AREA: One-Day Strike Planned At Several Hospitals
More than 3,000 health care workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 250 are set to walk off the job at eight Bay Area hospitals on Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The dispute centers around the union's demand that employees be allowed more input in hospital staffing arrangements. Local 250, which represents technicians, licensed vocational nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeepers and clerks, plans to strike at five Sutter Health hospitals -- Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo and Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport -- and at three Catholic Healthcare West hospitals -- Seton Medical Center in Daly City, St. Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco. Last week, SEIU Local 250 reached an agreement with Alameda County that gave employees more say in staffing at Oakland's Highland Hospital and San Leandro's Fairmont Hospital and John George Psychiatric Pavilion, thus preempting a planned walkoff at those hospitals. Local 250 targeted the same Sutter Health and CHW hospitals this summer, initiating a one-day strike in July and a two-day walkout in August over staffing issues. Local 250 and Sutter Health have not negotiated since August. Negotiators for CHW and the union reached a tentative agreement in August "that would have given employees the right to use binding arbitration to settle disputes over staffing," but CHW rejected the agreement because its negotiator did not clear the proposal with management. Pointing out that other hospital chains, including Kaiser Permanente, have given their employees a greater voice in staffing issues, Local 250 hospital division director John Borsos said, "It just seems that we're dealing with two employers who are out of the norm with what the rest of the industry is moving toward: the idea that frontline workers need a voice on staffing care" (Pimentel, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/24). Bill Gleeson, a spokesperson for CHW, said, "We believe our doctors and nurses and board leaders -- not union leaders -- are in the best position to make decisions about the hospital." Officials from the two hospital systems anticipate "few, if any, disruptions in service" if the strike goes ahead as planned (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 10/24).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.