FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 29, 2023
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Healthcare workers who work for Fresenius Medical Care and provide dialysis care inside ten San Diego hospitals are the latest workers to launch a strike over unfair labor practices on Monday, October 2nd–Tuesday, October 3rd with a picket line in front of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla — just days after more than 500 other dialysis caregivers from Fresenius and Satellite Healthcare held a ULP strike at 21 dialysis clinics across California. It was the first strike by dialysis caregivers in California.
Registered nurses, hemodialysis technicians and schedulers that work at ten hospital facilities across San Diego County at Sharp HealthCare, Scripps Health, and Tri-CIty are adding their voices to the growing chorus of frontline dialysis caregivers who say Fresenius management is putting staff and patients at risk to increase profits while violating workers’ rights for speaking out.
“For years we have been sounding the alarm about chronic understaffing that’s putting our coworkers and patients at risk, but management refuses to work with our bargaining team at the table,” said Misty Bellah, an acute dialysis registered nurse at Fresenius. “I work as a bedside nurse and make $30 more an hour than I do as a dialysis nurse. I have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. I sacrifice my sleep, my health, and more importantly, time with my family. That’s why it’s important for us to send a strong message that we will not be silenced by management’s unfair labor practices.”
In response to caregivers’ attempts to improve safety, management at the world’s largest dialysis provider has violated United States labor law by retaliating against workers for leading organizing efforts and trying to speak up about safety concerns. They have also made unilateral changes to working conditions during contract negotiations with the newly unionized caregivers.
Many dialysis caregivers are forced to hold two or more jobs to make ends meet, work six days a week, and make as little as $17 an hour. In contrast, Fresenius Medical Care made nearly $710 million in profits in 2022 and paid its CEO more than $5 million in compensation.
“We are all sick and tired of being sick and tired. Many of us are working two jobs or picking up extra shifts and taking on 15 to 16 hour shifts just to pay our bills. It’s not safe for us or our patients, but it’s the business model at Fresenius,” said Crystal Pivornik, an acute dialysis registered nurse at Fresenius. “We are demanding a voice in our working conditions and how our patients are being treated because somebody has to hold the dialysis corporations accountable.”
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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