Union To Pressure Calif. Hospital Groups That Refuse To Join Pact
In a conference call last month, a top official at the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West vowed to put pressure on three large hospital systems in California that have not joined a pact with the union, FierceHealthFinance reports (Shinkman, FierceHealthFinance, 6/16).
Background on SEIU-UHW, CHA Partnership
Last month, the California Hospital Association and SEIU-UHW -- which traditionally have been adversaries -- announced an agreement in which the union would end a push for two ballot initiatives targeting hospital pricing and executive pay:
- The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act, which would have banned hospitals from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of care; and
- The Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act, which would have barred not-for-profit hospital executives from collecting annual salaries greater than $450,000.
In addition, CHA and most of the state's 430 hospitals will implement a new "code of conduct" to ban negative campaigning between CHA and SEIU-UHW and make it easier for workers to join unions.
The agreement also calls for the two organizations to jointly fund a $100 million campaign aimed at increasing Medi-Cal payments and reforming the program. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, said the groups would jointly pursue a Medi-Cal ballot initiative in 2016 if the campaign is unsuccessful.
However, many of the details of the agreement remain unknown.
The leaders of both organizations have not released the text of the agreement and will not disclose the names of the hospitals that have signed on to the deal.
SEIU-UHW spokesperson Steve Trossman said the participating hospitals account for the majority of hospital beds in the state (California Healthline, 6/10).
Details of Comments
During a conference call with union officials on May 6 that was leaked to the Los Angeles Times, SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said three large hospital systems in the state had failed to sign on to the agreement:
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles;
- Prime Healthcare Services; and
- Providence Health & Services.
Regan called the health systems "outliers" and said the union will "continue to be public and beat them up" in an attempt to make the providers "heel" and join the pact (FierceHealthFinance, 6/16). Regan added, "[W]e've got to sit down with the leadership of not just [CHA] but all the major providers and say, 'Now what are we going to do about Cedars, Prime and Providence?'"
Regan also said that other hospitals will face protests from SEIU-UHW if they do not pressure Cedars-Sinai, Prime and Providence to join the pact.
According to the Times, the comments show that the pact between the union and hospital industry players is "fragile" and that animosity "still exists" between the entities.
A spokesperson for Prime said that Regan should be held accountable for "his threat to bully Prime and other hospitals to 'heel' and his efforts to get CHA's assistance in that scheme."
Cedars-Sinai noted that it recently negotiated a labor contract with SEIU-UHW and plans to continue "working constructively and collaboratively with a wide variety of organizations," including the union. Meanwhile, Providence said that it is "employees' right to decide whether or not to be represented by unions" (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 6/13).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.