Healthcare workers’ union to give management official strike notice today
LOS ANGELES - Close to 700 employees of Keck Medical Center of USC (formerly USC University Hospital) plan to strike for 24 hours on October 12th if management continues to refuse to bargain in good faith toward a fair contract. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents the workers at the hospital, will issue official notice later today.
USC caregivers have been bargaining with the hospital since August 2010. Workers are asking that management agree to provide frontline caregivers with a contractually enforceable means of addressing short-staffing problems that compromise patient care. To date, their proposal to protect patients has been rebuffed by hospital administrators.
Even though the hospital has received $250 million in donations over the last three years and commitments of an additional $150 million, management has proposed implementing a one-year wage freeze on hospital workers. The hospital further insists on continuing to deny caregivers the same family tuition assistance benefit and retirement plan that they recently agreed to for the hospital’s Registered Nurses, who are members of the California Nurses Association, and that is available to almost every other university employee.
The federal government has issued complaints against Keck Medical Center management for several unfair labor practices, and has scheduled a hearing on them for October 24th.
“USC is one of the most prestigious medical centers in the state, and we’re the caregivers who have helped earn it that reputation,” said Basil Nasir, an OR Blood Gas Tech at the hospital. “We care for patients every day, and when we say there are staffing problems that are putting patients at risk, it’s management’s responsibility to listen to us. For frontline workers at USC, patient care is our bottom line, not profits. With hundreds of millions of dollars at its disposal, this hospital can afford to care properly for its patients — and to treat its workers with respect.”
NUHW members at USC include Respiratory Care Practitioners, Radiology Technologists, Surgical Technicians, Housekeepers and other job classifications.
The one-day strike at USC will closely follow a massive statewide strike at Kaiser Permanente last week, also led by NUHW.