[Feb. 26, 2015] OAKLAND, Calif. – Healthcare workers said today they will continue to stand up for quality patient care at Daughters of Charity Health System hospitals and will launch a major campaign to bargain a new contract, despite a frivolous lawsuit against their union filed by the company this week.
“We will not be intimidated and we will not back down,” said William Adkins, a Certified Nursing Assistant at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose. “We are going to fight to protect community health, continue improving our wages and benefits, and protecting our pensions.”
For months, the hospital chain’s management has tried to intimidate employees into supporting the sale of Daughters to Prime Healthcare. In one-on-one conversations and mandatory group meetings, managers demand that workers support the sale, and said they would lose their jobs if the sale to Prime was not approved.
The attempted bullying reached a climax this week when Daughters of Charity filed a frivolous lawsuit against SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) and others, alleging that by exercising their right to speak out against the sale, SEIU-UHW members had harmed Daughters. The suit comes just days after California Attorney General Kamala Harris approved the sale of Daughters to Prime, but imposed strict conditions on the acquisition. Prime has not yet indicated if they will go forward with the purchase.
“Daughters of Charity is losing $10 million a month and threatening bankruptcy, yet CEO Robert Issai decided it would be a good idea to spend the company’s precious and dwindling resources on a frivolous lawsuit designed to punish workers for speaking out against selling the system to Prime Healthcare,” said SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan. “This is nothing more than a legal hissy fit, and no lawsuit is going to stop healthcare workers from speaking up to protect their patients, workers and communities.”
Daughters of Charity members vowed to push forward to:
- Bargain a new contract with the company to raise wages and protect benefits.
- Continue supporting a lawsuit to make sure the pensions of current and retired Daughters employees are protected.
- Seek to require Daughters to pay tens of millions in missed premiums to the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which insures private defined-benefit pension benefits.
SEIU-UHW also will seek enforcement of a requirement that the Daughters’ pension funds be fully funded within 90 days of the sale.
“The more Daughters’ management tried to intimidate us in recent months, the stronger we got and the more motivated we were to stand our ground and push back,” said Karen Linzy, a mental health worker at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. “This lawsuit just charges us up even more to provide the best possible care to our patients and stand up for our future.”