SEIU-UHW is Working for a Healthy California
Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a California union made up of 150,000 healthcare workers who work in hospitals, nursing homes, and in the community as home care providers.

Our members are frontline caregivers, including respiratory care practitioners, dietary, environmental services and nursing staff who keep Californians healthy.
We live and work through out California from the Bay Area to Sacramento and Los Angeles to the Central Valley.

Our union of healthcare workers is driven to improve the healthcare system. Our mission is to provide quality care for all patients, expand access to excellent, affordable healthcare for all Californians and improve living standards for all workers.

Healthcare workers give $100K to typhoon relief, plan medical mission to Philippines

[November 15, 2013] Healthcare workers in California announced plans today to donate $100,000 toward typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines, and are organizing a mission to provide medical care in the hardest hit areas of the country.

The workers are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, the West Coast’s largest union of healthcare workers. They are encouraging other healthcare workers, whether they are in the union or not, to join the medical mission to the Philippines.

“Along with other Americans, we have watched with horror and sadness as scenes of destruction in the Philippines play out on television,” said Theresa Domingo, a nurse at Seton Coastside Hospital in Moss Beach, who has family in the affected areas of the Philippines and plans to join the medical mission. “As a healthcare worker who takes care of people every day, it only makes sense that we would extend that same kind of help to those devastated by the typhoon.”

SEIU-UHW is taking care to choose relief organizations to receive the money based on their ability to provide aid directly to disaster victims.

The medical mission will be coordinated with relief organizations, including possibly the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. The goal for the mission is to depart to the Philippines within the next month, when access can be gained to stricken areas. Healthcare workers with medical training who are interested in joining the mission should contact Lynette Gaddi at (510) 587-4590 or lgaddi@seiu-uhw.org.

According to the U.S. Census, an estimated 1.4 million people of Filipino descent live in California, of which thousands are SEIU-UHW members, many with families affected by the storm.

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SEIU-UHW Files Ballot Measures to Rein in Healthcare Costs

[Nov. 8, 2013] SACRAMENTO, CA – California healthcare workers filed two statewide ballot initiatives today to end overpricing by hospitals and excessive compensation of nonprofit hospital executives. The two initiatives would lower California hospital prices by at least $2.5 billion a year.

The initiatives were submitted by members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) and will appear on the general election ballot in November 2014.

“High cost is the number one problem facing health consumers in California and the nation, and these two initiatives will end the practice of hospitals charging patients on average 320 percent above what it costs them to provide care, and bring down the outrageous salaries paid to hospital executives, most of whom work for nonprofit institutions, said SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan. “These measures will require hospitals to reset their relationship with patients and the public, and in turn bring down the cost of healthcare for all Californians.”

The initiatives include:

  • Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2014: Prohibits hospitals from charging more than 25 percent above the actual cost of providing patient care. On average, California hospitals charge 320 percent more than the actual cost of providing care in their facilities. Insurance companies and the uninsured are often left to deal with these vastly inflated bills that drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone.
  • Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act of 2014: Prohibits nonprofit hospital executives in California from receiving more than $450,000 in annual compensation – the same amount received by the President of the United States. In 2011, the ten highest compensated nonprofit hospital CEOs in California made an average of $2.6 million, with the highest receiving more than $7.8 million.

“Every day I see people come into my hospital who can’t afford to pay for the services they received because they don’t have health insurance,” said Michelle Ross, an SEIU-UHW member and healthcare worker in Sacramento. “Either they go deep into debt or they forgo care. These initiatives will help get things under control so that hospitals aren’t stacking bill on top of bill all the while paying their CEOs millions of dollars.”

According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, California hospitals subject to these ballot initiatives in 2011 charged patients $233.6 billion – even though their operating expenses were only $63.7 billion. In one case, Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles charged patients $1 billion that year, despite operating expenses of $111.3 million – resulting in a markup of 804 percent.

Taken together, the two ballot measures address the root cause of skyrocketing premiums in California. Between 2002 and 2013, health insurance premiums in California increased 170 percent, which is more than five times the rate of inflation during that period.

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UHW members step up pressure for immigration reform

Fresno area immigration advocates  – including SEIU-UHW members – are joining a national day of action with plans for the largest immigration rally of the year in Fresno at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 5. An estimated 500 people will step up the pressure by calling on Congress to vote this year on immigration reform legislation, and register new voters as part of a growing movement for progressive change.

The Fresno action is one of more than 130 events happening nationwide (including 19 in California), which seek to highlight Congress’s failure to pass immigration reform and the effect it will have on the 2014 elections.  The coalition’s message, “Now is the Time – We have the Votes,” conveys the strong majority support for immigration reform from both Democratic and Republican members of Congress and reinforces how Latino, Asian and immigrant communities can increase their political influence through voting.

Local organizers are comparing this political moment to 1994, when California voters approved an anti-immigrant ballot measure that led to a surge in Latino voter registration. The Fresno coalition is drawing on that incident to mobilize a new generation of voters to sway the 2014 elections.

WHEN:        10:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 5

WHERE:     Fresno County Courthouse Park
1100 Van Ness Ave., Fresno

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Long Beach Healthcare Workers Gain First Contract, Ensuring Better Safety

[October 3, 2013] LONG BEACH, Calif. – Healthcare workers at a mental health facility in Long Beach heralded the approval of their first union contract today after an 18-month struggle to improve the safety of workers, patients and community residents. Under the two-year agreement, the employees who are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) will finally have a strong voice to address safety concerns at La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center.

“This is an important step toward improving care and security at the hospital, and we look forward to working with management to address these safety issues,” said Neilanie Besana, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center. “I became a nurse to help people, and this agreement makes me more determined than ever to provide the best care for our patients.”

Longstanding worker requests such as improved training and safety measures – hiring an on-site security officer and erecting a Plexiglas barrier around the nursing station – will be addressed through the formation of a safety committee co-chaired by workers and management.

In June, workers went on a five-day strike at the facility to raise awareness about recurring safety issues, including patients regularly escaping and employees being injured after violent altercations with patients. Their efforts drew support from federal, state, county and local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D – San Pedro); Senator Ricardo Lara (D – Bell Gardens); Assemblymembers Bonnie Lowenthal (D – Long Beach) and Anthony Rendon (D – Lakewood); and Long Beach City Councilmembers Steve Neal and Patrick O’Donnell.

Workers hope their new contract will inspire employees at another area mental health facility that is plagued by violence and disorder – College Hospital in Cerritos. That facility has recorded multiple patient escapes, sexual assaults, attacks on staff and suspicious patient deaths over the last five years.

“We understand the struggle of healthcare workers at College Hospital Cerritos to draw attention to the unsafe conditions at their facility,” said Tony Gann, a Mental Health Worker at La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center. “We know well how it feels to come to work in an unsafe environment where management doesn’t seem to care about protecting employees, patients, or the community but we want our example to motivate them that they can prevail, too.”

La Casa is owned by Telecare Corporation, an Alameda, California-based private company which has more than 2,200 employees in six states, and reported net patient revenue of $186 million in 2011.


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Long Beach paper supports improved training at La Casa

[October 1, 2013] Most of us can walk away from those who act bizarre and sometimes scary, but at La Casa Mental Health Rehabilitation Center there is no walking away.

The facility recently made headlines after workers in ongoing contract negotiations complained that the 190-bed, county-contracted center that cares for those with serious mental illness posed a safety threat.

The workers allege the company failed to take enough steps to prevent clients from escaping and to offset patient violence.

Read the full editorial published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

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Prime hospital not complying with judge’s order

[September 29, 2013] Doctors with the Inland Pulmonary Medical Group said they are still not receiving notices when their patients are admitted to Chino Valley Medical Center, despite a recent ruling from a judge to do so.

The Prime Healthcare Services-owned hospital had been refusing to notify doctors when their patients were in the facility, and allowing them to treat their patients.

Read the full story published in the San Bernardino Sun.

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