Agreement Will Improve Employees’ Health While Protecting Benefits and Providing Raises
For Immediate Release: Friday, June 22, 2012
Contact: Carlyn Foster: (510) 541-0931
Oakland, CA—SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West members reached a tentative agreement with Dignity Health early this morning that maintains workers’ full benefits, provides raises, and also contains unique provisions to promote better health among Dignity employees as a way of lowering costs and modeling healthy lifestyles to the public. The agreement averted a strike set to begin at 11 p.m. June 26.
The new health provisions for employees are part of SEIU-UHW’s Let’s Get Healthy California initiative, and they fulfill a goal members expressed from the beginning of contract negotiations last November.
“We launched Dignity bargaining last year with a different approach that expands the scope of what we do to help employees get healthy, lower costs, and help build a healthier community,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “The agreement maintains benefits and provides raises—but goes beyond traditional union issues to work with the employer to promote health and wellness.”
The four-year agreement maintains all benefits, including fully paid family healthcare, strong pensions, and job security. It covers 14,000 workers in 31 facilities across the state, and is subject to a membership vote.
“I’m really proud that we protected our benefits and job security, and stood up for quality care by preventing subcontracting,” said Michelle Brown, an LVN at Marian Medical Center. “I’m so glad we have the strength of our union, SEIU-UHW. In these difficult economic times we were able to win a contract that will let us properly provide for our families and care for our patients.”
The agreement includes a Joint Health and Wellness Committee with the goals of improving the health and well being of employees and their families, improving workplace health and safety, and enhancing effectiveness and productivity.
SEIU-UHW launched its statewide Let’s Get Healthy California initiative earlier this year. It is the centerpiece of a commitment by SEIU-UHW members to help workers and people in their communities get healthier to lower costs and improve quality of life. As part of the effort, SEIU-UHW members:
- Reached a first-of-its-kind strategic agreement with the California Hospital Association to work together to improve quality care, lower costs, improve the incentives for healthcare funding, and engage in high-road labor relations. The Dignity agreement is an example of how unions and employers can join together to ensure good jobs and improve health.
- Worked with Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Endowment on an executive order that seeks to significantly reduce chronic disease in California over the next 10 years. The Executive Order established a high-level task force to develop a comprehensive plan for healthcare by the end of the year. The task force held it’s first meeting this month, and will issue its recommendations by the end of the year.
- Introduced state legislation, with other unions and community partners, to reorganize and improve long-term care in California by reforming the way home care is organized and funded.
- Received a grant from the California Endowment to sign up people in South Los Angeles for healthcare programs for which they qualify but have not taken advantage of.
- Working with Kaiser to promote and screen the HBO series “The Weight of the Nation” in an effort to reduce the epidemic of obesity in America.
- Working in partnership with the pro soccer team Chivas USA in Los Angeles to provide health screenings and information about healthy living before home games at the Home Depot Center.
- Working with Dr. Nadine Burke, a physician who is taking a unique approach to treating low-income children at the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco.
- Establishing a permanent presence at San Francisco’s Sunday Streets, a massive monthly street festival where SEIU-UHW members are teaching people Tai Chi, engaging children in healthy activities like hoola-hooping, and providing free health screenings for members of the public.
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 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.