Long Beach City Council Condemns Dignity Health for Treatment of Security Officers

Long Beach City Council Condemns Dignity Health for Treatment of Security Officers

For Immediate Release:
August 11, 2021

Renée Saldaña
[email protected]

LONG BEACH, Calif. – The Long Beach City Council has unanimously passed a resolution condemning Dignity Health’s inhumane treatment of its security officers and calling on the corporate healthcare giant to “immediately respect the will of these workers by recognizing them as members of SEIU-UHW.”

With the 9-0 vote, the council joins dozens of other elected bodies and leaders — including U.S. Senator Alex Padilla — in expressing outrage over Dignity Health’s mistreatment of the security officers who are the first line of defense for patients and caregivers across the chain’s facilities.

“I am concerned by reports from Dignity Health security officers that they did not receive sufficient personal protection equipment at the height of the pandemic,” said Long Beach Councilmember Suely Saro, who introduced the resolution. “They are calling for the protection of a union to ensure safer staffing levels and safety protocols. I urge Dignity management to respect the will of its security officers to be recognized as members of SEIU-UHW.”

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia voiced his full support for the security officers’ efforts to improve safety by forming their union: “Security officers are the primary protectors of patients, healthcare workers, and our communities in Dignity Health facilities like St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. Yet they face threats to their lives and livelihoods at work. They deserve the same protections as their unionized colleagues in SEIU-UHW.”

The resolution calls out Dignity Health for numerous violations, including:

  • Placing security officers at grave risk of COVID-19 infection due to lack of personal protective equipment, unsafe staffing levels, and inadequate pandemic safety protocols.
  • Failing to address workplace violence and showing a general disregard for the well-being of security officers.
  • Refusing to recognize security officers’ right to form their union — even though the vast majority of officers have signed union authorization cards to join SEIU-UHW.

The resolution also notes that complaints have been filed against Dignity Health with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) due to numerous safety violations, including routine failures to screen people entering the hospital, failure to enforce social distancing rules, failure to train security guards on COVID-19 protocols, and failure to report COVID-19 cases to security guards with potential exposure.

The security officers are committed to forming their union in SEIU-UHW in order to address the myriad of workplace threats they face. A vast majority of the officers across the state have signed union authorization cards to join SEIU-UHW and are now waiting for Dignity Health to recognize them as members of the union.

“Security officers at Dignity Health put their lives on the line to protect patients and healthcare workers like me,” said Christine Nguyen, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and SEIU-UHW Executive Board member at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. “A security guard at one facility tried to help a patient who broke out of a unit, and after suffering a terrifying beating, management blamed him for getting hurt. We don’t have enough security staff during these violent situations, and it puts the entire hospital and community at risk.”

CommonSpirit/Dignity Health made $2.7 billion in profits in the last half of 2020, has received $1.3 billion in federal pandemic relief funds, pays the company CEO over $11 million a year, and pays 28 executives over $1 million a year.

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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the United States, with over 100,000 members. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.