Health Workers at Mercy Healthcare Sacramento Set to Vote on Unionization
Hourly workers at Mercy Healthcare Sacramento will vote Tuesday and Wednesday on whether to join the Service Employees International Union, the Sacramento Bee reports. The approximately 2,000 service and techincal workers at Mercy General Hospital and Methodist Hospital in Sacramento, Mercy Hospital of Folsom and Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, who "narrowly rejected" joining the union last year, are still "sharply divided in their view of the union." Some say that the SEIU Local 250 offers the "promise of an equitable wage scale, better health benefits and safer working conditions." Others say that the union is "hungry for members -- and dues." The Bee reports that because Mercy is owned by Catholic Healthcare West, a win in this election could bring the union "one step closer" to having the ability to negotiate contracts statewide. Glenn Goldstein, director of organizing for SEIU Local 250, said Mercy currently "lags behind" industry standards on wages and benefits. He added, "If the minimum starting rate for any union job in Kaiser is over $12 an hour, and anybody who works over 20 hours a week gets full paid health benefits for themselves and their kids, and then at Mercy they can make $2 or $3 less each hour and pay out of pocket for their family's health care, that's something we need to change." The Bee reports that since last year's vote, SEIU and CHW have "hammered out ground rules for fair play" in this week's election and in the future. Union officials said the 2000 vote was "compromised by management attempts to discourage organizers." Jill Dryer, a spokesperson for Mercy, said, "We encourage all of [our] employees to exercise their right to vote" (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 11/12).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.