MERCY HEALTHCARE: Hospital Employees May Unionize
Nearly 3,000 Mercy Healthcare Sacramento-area employees are considering unionization as they become the target of "an aggressive organizing campaign by Service Employees International Union Local 250." The Sacramento Business Journal reports that the union is trying to attract nurse's aides, respiratory therapists and other technical support staff. The union efforts "could place an additional financial burden on the Mercy system," which just agreed to a new, three-year contract with its nurses that cost $22.8 million. The Business Journal reports that hospital employees are moving to unionize for many of the same reasons that motivated the nurses -- "stress at work, inadequate staffing and unhappiness with Mercy's" reorganization plans. Mary Hillman, a respiratory-care practitioner at Mercy Folsom, said: "It ties in with redesign, which is basically corporate downsizing."
The SEIU is also seeking to represent 4,500 Catholic Healthcare West employees in San Francisco. A survey of 10 Catholic-affiliated hospitals -- including Mercy General, Methodist, Mercy Folsom, Mercy San Juan, Mercy American River and Woodland Memorial -- found that 84% of Mercy workers said the "new patient care teams have not improved the quality of care. Seventy percent said they have to skip breaks to complete assigned work," and 68% said their job is more stressful as a result of the restructuring (Robertson, 6/22 issue).