After Nearly Three Years, NUHW Trades Away Hospital Workers Pay and Benefit Guarantees in First Major Contract

Workers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center Lose Guarantees Previously Secured with SEIU-UHW

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011
Contact: Steve Trossman, 213-300-1882
Elizabeth Brennan, 323-888-8183

LOS ANGELES – After a year-and-a-half of negotiations, workers who are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in Southern California lost their contractual guarantees of minimum pay rates and fully employer-paid healthcare benefits.

Regular wage increases and 100 percent paid healthcare benefits were previously guaranteed under the workers’ former union contract with SEIU-UHW.

“Let’s get real here,” said Jeanene Aguilar, an employee at Providence Tarzana Medical Center and a dues-paying member of NUHW. “We took two huge steps back and one small step forward. I haven’t received a raise in 18 months, and under this contract the cost of my health insurance could now practically double.”

The NUHW deal is the first major contract NUHW has been able to negotiate in nearly three years and abandons many of the standards workers have fought hard to win over the years. Much of the small wage gains NUHW claims to have won were negated by a year-and-a-half of no pay raises while the contract was negotiated and the givebacks management forced on the union.

Specifically, the contract:

  • Eliminates the guarantee of a free healthcare plan, allowing for increases in employee costs of up to 10 percent a year.
  • Eliminates wage scales that guarantee minimum pay rates for each job classification.
  • Eliminates anniversary step pay increases.
  • Freezes wages for per diem employees for three years.
  • Slashes weekend differentials, education benefits and standby pay.
  • Abandons a critical voice for healthcare workers in staffing decisions.

NUHW also failed to keep many of the other promises it made workers: The contract contains no retroactive wage increases for the year-and-a-half workers went without a contract, and recently laid-off workers did not get their jobs back even though many departments are inadequately staffed.

The contract does ensure new dues money for NUHW, something the financially struggling organization desperately needs, but in exchange NUHW-represented workers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center had to agree to low wages and high healthcare costs for at least another three years.

NUHW has been unable to bargain contracts for more than 6,000 workers it represents, including at Kaiser where workers face major givebacks.

This latest failure comes on the heels of news two weeks ago that NUHW faces new financial scrutiny after agreeing to amend a financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor to reveal the true source of $1.05 million in donations they received in 2010.

NUHW is headed by Sal Rosselli and John Borsos, among other officials were removed from office at SEIU-UHW in 2009 after they were caught moving $3 million in members’ dues money to an outside organization they controlled for their own purposes. In April 2010, a federal jury in San Francisco found them liable for financial improprieties while running SEIU-UHW and ordered them and NUHW to pay a judgment of more than $1.5 million to SEIU-UHW members.

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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 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union.

Source: SEIU-UHW

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