[Dec. 20, 2016] POMONA, Calif. – Healthcare workers at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center say they are facing retaliation after raising concerns about ‘superbug’ infections and unsafe working conditions, in complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
“For speaking up about our working conditions, we are being wrongly targeted by hospital executives that seem more concerned about their reputation than making improvements,” said Maria Heredia, a housekeeper at Pomona Valley. “That’s no way to get patients’ hospital-acquired infections under control and to create safe working conditions, and it’s no way to build trust among employees.”
In three separate complaints, workers said Pomona Valley managers violated the National Labor Relations Act by intimidating, harassing, threatening and coercing them:
- The hospital coerced at least six workers who exposed dangerous working conditions into signing an unlawful confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from discussing their working conditions, including a lack of training and being needlessly exposed to infectious diseases;
- The hospital intimidated workers by negatively singling out union supporters in an effort to scare them from continuing to engage in protected union activity; and
- The hospital harassed and threatened a worker for wearing union paraphernalia, and told her she would not be promoted in the future.
Safe working conditions, along with patient safety, at Pomona Valley remain serious issues. According to a national study released last month by Consumer Reports, in 2015, the hospital reported a rate worse than the national benchmark in three areas of patient safety: avoiding surgical site infections, and avoiding bacterial infections of Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Workers have appealed to the hospital management to work together on a solution to the infections and other problems at the hospital. They voted in January 2016 to gain a stronger voice to improve patient care and create safer working conditions by joining SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). However, the hospital has repeatedly refused to recognize their vote and is instead wasting precious hospital resources on frivolous legal challenges, workers say. More than 1,100 Pomona Valley Hospital employees are affected by the delay.