Hospital Workers Plan One-Day Strike To Protest Staffing Policies, Will Be Locked Out Until Monday
About 7,000 hospital workers at nine Sutter Health hospitals planned a one-day strike Wednesday, but hospital officials said they would lock out employees until Monday, the Contra Costa Times reports. Employees are striking to protest what they say are unfair labor practices by Sutter, including staffing issues, career advancement and training programs (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 12/1). The hospitals involved include St. Luke's Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport, Sutter Warrack Hospital in Santa Rosa and Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
The Sutter employees on strike -- represented by Service Employees International Union Locals 250 and 707 -- include vocational nurses, nurse assistants, lab assistants, dietary workers, housekeepers and supply workers (California Healthline, 11/22).
The California Nurses Association said it will hold sympathy strikes at five hospitals (Contra Costa Times, 12/1). CNA represents the 2,700 striking registered nurses (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
Hospitals will remain open during the strike and lockout period and will hire replacement workers.
Hospital officials said the lockout is not meant as retaliation for the strike but is the minimum number of days to hire replacement workers. According to Eden spokesperson Cassandra Phelps, the unions repeatedly have refused to meet with hospital negotiators, although attempts at resolving contract disputes have been made (Contra Costa Times, 12/1).
"We don't believe we can appropriately and safely care for our patients with the threat of repeated one-day strikes," Phelps said, adding, "It's our intention to communicate to the union that if they're going to strike one day, they're taking their employees out for five" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
John Borsos, vice president of SEIU Local 250, said, "Every other major employer in Northern California has agreed to sit down and work out a contract like we're proposing at Sutter Health." He added, "The strike is over unfair labor practices. We want to bargain a fair contract with Sutter and its affiliates in a way that gives caretakers a voice in staffing and allows them to upgrade their skills" (Contra Costa Times, 12/1).