Arroyo Grande Hospital Caregivers Vote to Join 14,000 Dignity Health Workers Already United in SEIU-UHW

 Healthcare workers form union to improve health and healthcare in community

For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Contact: Carlyn Foster, (510) 541-0931 or cfoster@seiu-uhw.org 

Oakland, CA—Healthcare workers at Dignity Health’s Arroyo Grande Community Hospital voted to unite in SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) on Tuesday to improve care, health and jobs in the Arroyo Grande and Central Coast communities.

“We are excited about joining a union that is thinking beyond the walls of our hospital and has made a real commitment to making California healthier,” said Deborah Turk, a Patient Access Representative. “At work and in our communities, we have an opportunity in SEIU-UHW to fulfill our mission as healthcare workers by improving our lives and the lives of the people we serve.”

Workers at the facility will be covered in part by an SEIU-UHW contract overwhelmingly approved this spring by more than 14,000 other Dignity Health employees. The contract contains unique provisions to promote better health among Dignity employees as a way of lowering costs and modeling healthy lifestyles to the public. Arroyo Grande workers will negotiate locally with the hospital on issues such as health insurance and wages.

The current contract provisions on improving health for employees are part of SEIU-UHW’s Let’s Get Healthy California initiative, and they fulfill a goal members expressed from the beginning of contract negotiations in November of 2011. It also includes a Joint Health and Wellness Committee to work on improving the health and well-being of employees and their families, improving workplace health and safety, and enhancing effectiveness and productivity.

SEIU-UHW launched its statewide Let’s Get Healthy California initiative earlier this year. It is the centerpiece of a commitment by SEIU-UHW members to help workers and people in their communities get healthier to lower costs and improve quality of life. As part of the effort, SEIU-UHW members:

  • Held an eight-day, 65-mile walk and listen tour, gathering more than 200 stories of how asthma has devastated families throughout the Central Valley of California.
  • Reached a first-of-its-kind strategic agreement with the California Hospital Association to work together to improve quality care, lower costs, improve the incentives for healthcare funding, and engage in high-road labor relations. The contract between SEIU-UHW members and Dignity Health is an example of how unions and employers can join together to ensure good jobs and improve health.
  • Worked with Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Endowment on an executive order that seeks to significantly reduce chronic disease in California over the next 10 years. The Executive Order established a high-level task force to develop a comprehensive plan for healthcare by the end of the year.
  • Introduced and passed state legislation, with other unions and community partners, to reorganize and improve long-term care in California by reforming the way home care is organized and funded.
  • Received a grant from the California Endowment to sign up people in South Los Angeles for healthcare programs for which they qualify but have not taken advantage of.
  • Working with Kaiser to promote and screen the HBO series “The Weight of the Nation” in an effort to reduce the epidemic of obesity in America.
  • Working in partnership with the pro soccer team Chivas USA in Los Angeles to provide health screenings and information about healthy living before home games at the Home Depot Center.
  • Working with Dr. Nadine Burke, a physician who is taking a unique approach to treating low-income children at the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco.
  • Establishing a permanent presence at San Francisco’s Sunday Streets, a massive monthly street festival where SEIU-UHW members are teaching people Tai Chi, engaging children in healthy activities like hula-hooping, and providing free health screenings for members of the public.

SEIU-UHW now has more than 14,000 members at 32 Dignity Health facilities statewide. The healthcare providers at Arroyo Grande who joined SEIU-UHW include Certified Nurse Assistants and Phlebotomists, along with Admitting, housekeeping and dietary employees, among others. The employees voted 60 yes to 29 no to form a union.

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SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

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