FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 14, 2021
OAKLAND, Calif. – Citing massive understaffing, difficult working conditions, and a series of unfair labor practices, more than 500 healthcare workers at two facilities in the East Bay have voted to strike in October.
Employees at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch and John Muir Behavioral Health Center in Concord say conditions are dire inside their facilities as management ignores their concerns about understaffing. Workers at both locations are worried about client and staff safety as they say they are feeling pushed to the limit by their employer.
“We’re drowning. There’s just not enough staff,” said Jennifer Stone, an emergency room technician at Sutter Delta Medical Center. “We’re wearing too many hats – we’re talking down angry COVID patients then we’re rushing to a code then we’re talking to family members who just lost a loved one. We can’t give adequate care. We’re being neglected and left to fend for ourselves, and we can’t do it all anymore.”
Workers at each facility say staffing shortages predate the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result of years of staffing and management decisions, many hospitals already didn’t meet adequate staffing for average patient levels. Caregivers in the East Bay say COVID exacerbated this already strained infrastructure, and some health systems’ responses to the pandemic have only worsened the preexisting crisis.
“We’re so short-staffed that someone’s being asked to work overtime after every single shift,” said Bertha Lopez, a unit secretary at John Muir Behavioral Health Center. “We’re burnt out, we’re exhausted, and we can’t go on like this. John Muir needs to address the understaffing issues that have made working conditions impossible here.”
The strike votes apply to a variety of job classes across two different facilities in the East Bay, including emergency room technicians, mental health counselors, respiratory therapists, environmental services technicians, phlebotomists, transporters, psychiatric technicians, licensed vocational nurses, and unit secretaries. The strikes are set to take place in October.
MEDIA CONTACT: Renée Saldaña, 213-479-5137, [email protected]
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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients, and healthcare activists united to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality care for all Californians, provided by valued and respected healthcare workers. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.