With Help from Federal Mediator, Final Marathon Negotiating Session Avoids Planned One-Day Strike and Achieves Caregivers’ Goals for Recruitment and Retention
More than 2,700 caregivers at five HCA-affiliated hospitals in California are voting on a tentative agreement this week reached Saturday, December 4 after marathon negotiations assisted by a federal mediator who’d stepped in to help avoid a one-day strike originally set for December 3.
The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) bargaining committee is recommending union member ratification of the agreement, which comes after nearly a year of negotiations where employees sought increased staffing, pay and benefits to improve recruitment and retention of experienced caregivers.
“HCA caregivers work under intense conditions and we were determined to negotiate a contract that ensured we were able to do our best at our hospitals,” said Art Arizaga, a sterile processing tech at Regional Medical Center in San Jose. “We believe the contract we won protects what we value as healthcare workers for our families and the communities where we work and provide care.”
The tentative agreement includes minimum guaranteed raises of 2% each year for four years, protects employer-paid healthcare and allows for career advancement and reimbursement. Additional raises to bring employees at each of the five hospitals up to the current wage scale vary by hospital and will range between 6% and 22% per year over four years.
“Making sure our hospitals are providing pay and benefits that are at the market level–so good workers stay–was really important. For caregivers and our families, for our patients and the communities who rely on the care we provide–this contract is something to celebrate,” said Juan Sanchez, an ER technician at Riverside Community Hospital.
SEIU-UHW represents caregivers at all five HCA hospitals in California: Good Samaritan Hospital and Regional Medical Center, both in San Jose; Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks; Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside; and West Hills Medical Center and Hospital in West Hills.
SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest healthcare union in the western U.S. with more than 150,000 members. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU).