SONOMA COUNTY: Warrack Hospital Employees, Management Avoid Strike
After bringing in a federal mediator, Warrack Hospital administrators and the hospital's 150-member employee association reached a contract agreement yesterday, averting a strike planned for tomorrow, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. The association represents technicians, maintenance workers, clerks and assistants. Dale Iversen, CEO for Warrack, said, "I am pleased to say there were no quality of care issues like the strikes going on in the Bay Area. Here, they were all economic issues. A strike is not what [hospital workers] wanted and neither did we." Differences over salary increases and paid time off held up the contract talks (Rose, 7/11). Last Friday, the federal mediator intervened after the contract talks stalled. The standoff was unrelated to the dispute between the Service Employees International Union and hospitals operated by Sutter Health and Catholic HealthCare West (Rose, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 7/7). Ken Lenatti, a radiology technician representing employees on the bargaining committee, said that the mediator "turned out to be a great help in getting Warrack into a win-win situation." Although the agreement stipulates that there will be no change in paid time off employees receive, management officials had wanted to reduce the number of paid days off, while employees wanted an increase. Under the agreement, employees with six to 10 years tenure at Warrack will receive 34 paid days off each year, employees with 11-15 years will receive 38 days and those with more than 16 years will receive 40 days off. While the workers had wanted a 4% raise immediately, followed by a 2.7% raise in January and a 4% raise next July, under the agreement they will receive a 3.7% raise now, a 2% raise in January and a 2% raise in July. Management officials had offered a 2% raise now and a 2% raise in January along with a "provision for future cots of living increases."
The agreement "comes at a crucial time" for the hospital owners, who are in negotiations to sell the facility, the Press Democrat reports. According to Iversen, Warrack's financial status will be reviewed by the end of July and bids for ownership will be considered thereafter. St. Joseph Health Systems and Sutter Health are the two main contenders (7/11).