News: Nearly 3,000 Workers Start Contract Negotiations at Daughters of Charity with a New Approach

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2011
Press Contacts: Elizabeth Brennan  213-999-2164

Workers Launch Contract Negotiations at Daughters of Charity with Focus on Improving Health for All Californians

Nearly 3,000 SEIU-UHW Members Ask Hospital Chain to Join with them in Preparing California for the Future of Healthcare

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Healthcare workers at six hospitals in California started contract negotiations Friday by asking the Daughters of Charity Health System to work with them to recruit and train healthcare workers to meet growing demand for healthcare services, help fight the alarming increase in chronic illness statewide and focus on new ways to improve healthcare for everyone.

“It’s going to take innovative thinking and cooperation to change our healthcare system so it works for everyone – that means patients and healthcare workers,” said Greg Gaboni, an ER tech at Daughters of Charity St. Louise Regional Hospital.

About 3,000 workers, who are members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) and work at Daughters of Charity hospitals in the greater San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, started negotiations for a new contract. Their current contract expires April 30.

Caregivers asked Daughters of Charity to join with them to recruit, train and educate the future generation of healthcare workers. According the California Wellness Foundation, between 2010-2020, the state will only have the capacity to educate about 300,000 even though the need will about 450,000 healthcare workers – a 150,000 shortfall.

SEIU-UHW members told the Daughters healthcare system they will build a team of 10,000 healthcare providers to launch a massive education program in the state focused on wellness, preventive care and to help prepare for the increasing healthcare demands of an aging population and help create a fund to train new healthcare workers. This includes promoting the healthcare at Daughters’ hospitals to the millions of Californians who will gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“This is a chance to turn everything on its head. We are healthcare workers so we personally see the flaws in our health system and we are going to take every chance we get to change the status quo and ensure more people have access to care,” said Natalie Garza, a licensed vocational nurse in the emergency room at Daughters of Charity O’Connor Hospital. “We believe in the care we provide at Daughters and we want to make sure more Californians have access to care at our hospitals.”

Last month about 14,000 SEIU members, who are healthcare providers at Catholic Healthcare West facilities, asked that healthcare system to join with them in improving and readying the healthcare system in California. Healthcare workers will next ask Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and leading advocacy organizations to join with them.

Workers are also committed to protecting access to healthcare for the elderly, children and people living with disabilities. Over the last several months SEIU-UHW members have made thousands of calls, held public events and visited elected officials in support of healthcare funding. Many patients at Daughters of Charity facilities rely on these programs – Medicare and Medi-Cal – for their medical coverage.

Alarming increases in the incidence of manageable and preventable chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, depression, hypertension and heart disease – along with rising healthcare costs – led workers, who are members of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), to commit to a platform called “Let’s Get Healthy California!” that will provide the backdrop for contract negotiations with all healthcare systems.

In 2012, more than 100,000 SEIU-UHW members in California will negotiate new union contracts. Under the banner of “Let’s Get Healthy California!” healthcare workers will negotiate contracts, introduce legislation and work with partner organizations to improve the quality of healthcare, lower healthcare costs and improve healthcare jobs.

The SEIU-UHW members in negotiations work at six Daughters of Charity facilities: O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Seton Medical Center Coastside in Moss Beach, St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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