SEIU-UHW represents 43,000 healthcare workers who provide care in some of our state’s largest hospitals. Our members provide every level of service — from licensed vocational nurses, radiology technologists, and lab techs to housekeeping, dietary aides, and maintenance employees.

Together, we provide high-quality care to our patients and their families. We are dedicated to finding ways to improving healthcare outcomes, lowering costs, and expanding access to our communities.

Watsonville Mayor, Healthcare Workers Launch Ballot Initiative Signature Gathering

[Dec. 2, 2017] WATSONVILLE, Calif. – Watsonville Mayor Oscar Rios and dozens of healthcare workers gathered at Watsonville City Hall to launch signature gathering for a November 2018 ballot initiative that seeks to protect patients from being overcharged by Watsonville Community Hospital and other healthcare facilities in the city.

“For every family that needs to go to the hospital, the last thing on their mind should be whether they’re going to be overcharged,” said Chris Gil, a surgical technician at Watsonville Community Hospital. “We think voters agree that healthcare prices are out of control, and they’ll support getting this initiative on the ballot.”

The proposed ballot initiative would limit Watsonville Community Hospital and other medical facilities in the city from charging patients more than 15 percent above the cost of care. Any charges above that amount would be refunded.

Organizers need to collect the signatures of 1,791 registered Watsonville voters to qualify the measure for the Nov. 6, 2018 election.

According to state records, Watsonville Community Hospital charges an average of $44,988 for a healthy baby delivery and $80,742 for treating a kidney infection, whereas Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz charges an average of only $27,256 and $53,688, respectively.

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Tenet is SEIU-UHW Territory!

Web Post_Victory Graphic_Hi-Desert_600cx400On October 24, nearly 300 workers at Tenet Hi-Desert Medical Center in Southern CA joined UHW in a landslide vote: 216 YES to 10 No.

This win comes on the heels of our victory at Tenet Emanuel Medical Center in August. UHW now represents more than 4,000 members at 11 Tenet facilities statewide. THIS is how #HealthcareJustice happens – improving lives for caregivers, our patients, and our families!

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We did it at Stanford!

With a 95% yes vote, Stanford workers overwhelmingly voted to ratify our new contract that included minimum 13% raises, an improved retirement plan, no cuts to healthcare, and the ability to make our political voice heard through COPE. This will go a long way toward raising the standard of living for the workers at this world-class institution to match those of our peers at other facilities.

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Dignity Leadership Summit

Dignity_LeadershipSummit_Group_thumbnailLast week workers from the state-wide Dignity Health system met in Sacramento to gain the leadership skills to combat external and internal threats to the bargaining campaign. We connected with fellow leaders, developed skills for a successful contract, and were inspired to take action!

As we embark on this journey to get a new job contract, we need to make sure we continue to have a protected voice in patient care, fair wages and free family healthcare to allow us to take care of those we care for at work and at home.

View more pictures from the summit on our Facebook album here.

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The Central Valley is UHW Territory!

Web Page Graphic to Tenet_Emanuel VictoryOn August 22, 400 workers at Tenet Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU-UHW. “Now we can speak up with one voice about things like staffing and patient care,” said Martha Alvarez, a patient care technician at Emanuel. “That means the hospital, the community, and the workers are all winners.”

Emanuel workers tried to join UHW in 2012-2013 under the hospital’s previous owners, but were unsuccessful after a tough fight – so this win is especially sweet!

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393 Hospital Workers in Turlock Join SEIU-UHW

[Aug. 23, 2017] TURLOCK, Calif. – Healthcare workers at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, Calif. voted Aug. 22 to join SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), a union of 93,000 healthcare workers across California.

The vote affects nearly 400 workers in dozens of job titles at the hospital, including certified nursing assistants, licensed vocational nurses, housekeepers, respiratory therapists, and radiology technicians.

“We voted to join the union because we want to provide the best patient care and have a stronger voice in making that happen,” said Martha Alvarez, a patient care technician at Emanuel Medical Center. “Being able to speak up with one voice about staffing and patient care means both the hospital and the community benefit.”

Emanuel Medical Center opened in 1917 and is owned by Tenet Healthcare Corporation. More than 3,400 employees at nine other Tenet-owned hospitals in California are already members of SEIU-UHW, including Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Calif. and Doctors Hospital in Manteca, Calif.

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Statewide Ballot Initiative Filed in California to Improve Dialysis Patient Care

[Aug. 9, 2017] SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Dialysis patient care advocates filed a ballot initiative today for the November 2018 election in California that seeks to improve patient care by placing minimum safety requirements on the 570 dialysis clinics in the state and limiting the amount dialysis companies can charge patients.

“I’ve been on dialysis for 2.5 years, and for much of that time I felt like the corporation cared more about its profits than me,” said Amar Bajwa, a dialysis patient from Fontana, Calif. “I see it by how rushed and understaffed the workers are, and we need this initiative to force the dialysis corporations to put profits into patient care, not executives’ pockets.”

Dialysis is a life-saving procedure that removes a patient’s blood, cleans it, and then puts it back in his or her body. Patients must go to a clinic three days a week, for three to four hours each time. More than 66,000 Californians rely on dialysis.

The proposed ballot initiative, the Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Act, would do the following:

  1. Require annual inspections of dialysis clinics in California;
  2. Require safer staffing levels at dialysis clinics in California;
  3. Require more recovery time for patients at dialysis clinics in California; and
  4. Limit the amount dialysis patients may be charged for care in California.

Advocates expect to receive the initiative’s title and summary from the California Attorney General by mid-October, 2017. That allows them to begin collecting the 365,880 signatures from registered California voters needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Signatures must be submitted to county election officials before mid-April, 2018.

The two largest dialysis corporations – DaVita and Fresenius – made a combined $3.9 billion in profits from their dialysis operations in the United States in 2016 but fiercely resist efforts to reform the industry. They charge patients with private health insurance 345 percent of the actual cost of treatment, and dialysis clinics in California overall are only inspected on average every five to six years.

The two largest companies’ unwritten policy is that no worker be assigned more than four patients at a time, but dialysis workers have reported situations where they must monitor and care for 12 or more patients at the same time for hours on end, raising concerns when multiple patients are at risk of falling blood pressure, fainting, having some other complication, or just needing to use the restroom.

The ballot initiative is being pursued while a related bill is moving through the California Legislature. SB 349, The Dialysis Patient Safety Act, requires annual inspections of dialysis clinics, safer staffing levels and more recovery time for patients. The bill passed the California Senate in May and awaits a vote in the California Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Dialysis workers in California have been trying to form a union with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) since 2016, and DaVita has fired five employees and disciplined an additional 18 workers following their advocacy of SB 349 and the union campaign since October 2016.

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Workers at Stanford Expect Better from World-Class Institution

Caregivers have concerns about what’s going on at Stanford. Hospital-acquired infections have been so bad in the past two years that they have been penalized by Medicare.

Workers at Stanford have asked to meet with CEO David Entwistle to go over their concerns. He agreed… at first. A few days later, they received a letter from HR canceling their meeting with the CEO.

Stanford caregivers have been ignored, disrespected, and treated like second-class employees for too long. To change the relationship between workers and management, they’ve been taking action.

  • Over 600 workers came to two rallies to get involved in making their hospital a better place to work.
  • They held a press conference drawing public attention to Stanford’s high infection rate, and management’s unwillingness to listen to their ideas to improve it.
  • They delivered over 1000 signed postcards to the office of the CEO, asking that he work with them, not against them.
  • They have also just started tweeting their ideas to Stanford executives about how to make Stanford a better hospital.

Frontline caregivers have the knowledge and ideas that can help Stanford become a better hospital. Why don’t they want to hear them?

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SEIU-UHW Joins Lawsuit Alleging California’s Separate and Unequal Medi-Cal System

[July 12, 2017] LOS ANGELES – State officials are violating the civil rights of 13.5 million individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for low-income Californians, a majority of whom are Latino, according to a lawsuit filed July 12.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges that Medi-Cal patients face huge obstacles in obtaining timely access to care because the state pays providers so little for their services that many doctors decline to accept Medi-Cal patients. Those problems are further compounded by the state’s failure to adequately monitor and oversee the program, according to the lawsuit.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), CREEC (Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center) and the law firm of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow LLP filed the suit on behalf of individuals, including a man who has cerebral palsy and is semi-paraplegic, as well as St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

“Medi-Cal is a critical program to so many of California’s children and adults; it is no exaggeration to say that our current and future workforce – our very prosperity as a state – depends on Medi-Cal providing access to vital physician care,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “We must ensure that Medi-Cal is administered in a fair and non-discriminatory manner that serves the healthcare needs of Latinos and all others enrolled in the program.”

At issue is Medi-Cal patients’ inability to access the care they need because of low reimbursement rates and unnecessary red tape.

Currently, California’s rates are so much lower than Medicare and employer-sponsored insurance rates that they discourage participation by healthcare providers and leave Medi-Cal recipients with few options, according to the lawsuit. With so few Medi-Cal providers, patients are frequently unable to find the primary and specialty care they need. When they do, they often wait weeks or months for appointments, or must often travel long distances effectively denying them meaningful health care, according to the complaint.

“California is required by law to provide Medi-Cal health insurance participants access to healthcare equivalent to the access of people with other insurance coverage, including employer-sponsored insurance and Medicare,” said Bill Lann Lee, senior counsel of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), and a former assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. “In the past, when Medi-Cal was a predominantly white program, access was better because the reimbursement rates were closer to other insurance reimbursement rates. That changed when the Medi-Cal program became increasingly Latino and then majority Latino. That is discrimination.”

The lawsuit alleges the Medi-Cal program is discriminatory because as the number of Latino enrollees has increased, reimbursement rates have decreased, in violation of state civil rights protections.

Among those struggling to receive adequate healthcare access are Analilia Jimenez Perea and her son, Saul, who are two of the named plaintiffs in the civil rights suit. Saul is a Medi-Cal patient who has cerebral palsy and is semi-paraplegic. He suffers from severe seizures that have required frequent hospitalizations, but Analilia has had an extremely difficult time finding doctors who will see him. In one instance, they waited a year and a half for an appointment with a neurologist.

“It’s very sad when I try to get an appointment for him at a special clinic and they are happy to speak to me until they learn he has Medi-Cal, and then they either turn us away or tell us we’ll have to be put on a waiting list,” said Analilia.

Latinos in California have rapidly become the largest group of people receiving their health care through Medi-Cal. In 2000, 2.3 million Latinos were enrolled in Medi-Cal. By 2016, that number had risen to 7.2 million, a clear majority of the Medi-Cal population. In that same time frame – 2000 to 2016 – Medi-Cal payments to health providers fell 20 percent compared to what Medicare pays for the same services.

Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to health providers are 48th in the nation. In many cases, the reimbursement rate is lower than a physician’s cost of providing care. Similar problems exist with managed care.

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Stanford Hospital Workers Highlight Patient Infections in Report

[July 11, 2017] PALO ALTO, Calif. – Healthcare workers released a report showing that patient infections at Stanford University Medical Center are a continuing problem. They say the problem is threatening patient care and is largely caused by understaffing, lack of training, and the failure of hospital executives to listen to workers’ concerns.

“Patients and workers are affected even though we’ve repeatedly told management about our safety concerns and the fact we haven’t been trained how to protect our patients or ourselves,” said Arun Kumar, a housekeeper at Stanford University Medical Center. “The hospital needs to get its priorities in line so patients and workers aren’t afraid of walking in and getting infected. Patient safety should be the first priority for any hospital, but in this case Stanford University Medical Center is not practicing this.”

Stanford University Medical Center scored far worse than the national benchmark for patients acquiring Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), a highly contagious infection that causes severe diarrhea and is fatal in 6.5 percent of patients, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Over a three-year period ending June 30, 2016, the hospital reported 524 C. diff. infections, or an average of 174 patients a year who acquired the infection after admission. Its infection figures were worse than the seven other teaching hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013 and 2014, and as a result the federal government has reduced its Medicare payments to the hospital two years in a row.

Workers say that too often they are not notified when a patient is in “isolation” because of a highly contagious infection, and unwittingly walk into patient rooms without proper protection. Housekeeping personnel indicate that they are expected to clean rooms in just 20 minutes, including those where a patient with an infection had been staying, which is not enough time to properly sanitize the room and prevent the spread of infections.

More than 1,800 Stanford University Medical Center employees are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).

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