LOS ANGELES – Healthcare workers at three Prime Healthcare hospitals in Southern California will picket today to protest the hospital chain’s attempt to cut their sick time and disability benefits in spite of the fact that the workers have been putting themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19 during the current pandemic.
Time and Locations of Informational Pickets Today
“I’ve been working at Prime Centinela Hospital for 28 years now, and I sacrifice for this hospital all year long,” said Sabrina Coffey-Smith, Telemonitor Tech at Centinela. “But even in the middle of a pandemic, management still can’t see us as essential workers. They want to take away our sick time and disability benefits while we come to work every day and risk our lives.”
Prime is proposing to cut paid time off for workers with less than 5 years on the job by 40 hours, and those with 5 to 10 years by 16 hours. The hospital chain also wants to cut disability benefits by 2 hours each pay period.
Prime also continues to severely underpay the healthcare workers at Centinela Hospital Medical Center compared to other hospitals. Pay is 26 percent to 51 percent below market rates for respiratory therapists (the people responsible for putting COVID-19 patients on ventilators); 31 percent to 53 percent below market for emergency room technicians (often the first point of contact in an emergency); and 22 percent to 51 percent below market for radiology technicians (who take chest x-rays).
The low pay leads to high turnover of critical professionals and undermines care to the Inglewood community. Many workers at the hospital refer to their facility as Centinela University because workers get trained there and then move on to higher-paying jobs at other hospitals.
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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 97,000 members. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.