SEIU Set For 24-Hour Strike, Alameda Reaches Resolution
Unionized workers at 16 Northern California hospitals were set to go on strike at 6 a.m. today, the fifth such action this year by the Service Employees International Union's Local 250 at facilities run by Catholic Healthcare West and Sutter Health. Facilities owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. and the Prison Health Services also will be targeted, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Among the 5,000 striking personnel are respiratory therapists, technicians, nurse assistants, housekeepers and clerks (Brazil, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/14). Participants in the 24-hour action contend that "low staffing has created dangerous workloads" (Kelly, Los Angeles Times, 12/14).
Excluded from the strike, however, will be Alameda County Medical Center, where hospital workers and nurses "overwhelmingly" approved a contract offer last night, with 87% voting in favor of the package, the Contra Costa Times, reports. Workers at the county's two hospitals, Highland Hospital in Oakland and Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro, had threatened to "walk off the job" on Tuesday if no resolution was reached. The three-year contract contains a minimum 14% raise for every worker and a 22% raise for some classifications, guarantees workers the right to use third-party neutral arbitration during staffing disputes with management and includes a "ban on subcontracting union work" (Contra Costa Times, 12/14).
Registered nurses at CHW-owned St. John's hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo were also expected to join the strike after negotiations to reach a new contract failed late last night, the Los Angeles Times reports. Armando Azarloza, spokesperson for CHW, said St. John's would be bringing in non-union nurses and delaying any minor surgical procedures that could be postponed until after the strike. Claiming hospital management has not compromised on staffing issues, nurse and negotiating team member Chris Slane said, "We will continue to make ourselves available to them if they want to talk." Azarloza expressed doubt that nurses were genuinely seeking to end the strike, saying, "This isn't about St. John's, this is about big labor trying to organize health care workers." Union representatives expect picketing workers in the Bay area to join a march from the University of California at Berkeley to Sutter Health's nearby Alta Bates Medical Center (Los Angeles Times, 12/14).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.