Workers at Mercy Hospital Bakersfield Demand Safety for Security Officers, File OSHA Complaint Citing Dangerous Working Conditions

Workers at Mercy Hospital Bakersfield Demand Safety for Security Officers, File OSHA Complaint Citing Dangerous Working Conditions

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Healthcare workers at Dignity Health – Mercy Hospital Downtown in Bakersfield will be joined by Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio to call out Dignity Health’s unequal treatment and lack of protections for security officers. The protest comes a day after Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) filed a formal hazard complaint with Cal/OSHA related to the hospital’s handling of the novel coronavirus.

“Dignity isn’t taking the safety of their security officers seriously. At the beginning of the pandemic, we couldn’t get proper PPE. Initially, we had to beg for the equipment and were told it wasn’t for security,” said Javier Chavez, a security officer at Mercy Hospital Downtown in Bakersfield. “I contracted COVID-19 and went back to work after only taking two days off because I didn’t have sick time. Even though I had symptoms, management didn’t ask me to stay home. They didn’t ask me to get tested or do any contact tracing either. We put our lives on the line protecting patients and the other employees who work here, but who is protecting us?”

The complaint states that at Dignity Health – Mercy Hospital Southwest in Bakersfield, management had failed to report coronavirus cases to security guards with potential exposure prior to February 2021, and that there are numerous present COVID-19-specific hazards generated by both past and ongoing practices that violate multiple elements of Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, putting the health and safety of security personnel at risk. The complaint notes that as a result, an estimated four out of a total of six security guards contracted COVID-19 between the months of June 2020 to December 2020 at Dignity Health – Mercy Hospital Southwest in Bakersfield.

According to the Cal/OSHA complaint, the core practices that have and continue to put security officers at risk are:

  • An insufficient COVID-19 exposure notification system
  • Routine failures to screen people entering the hospital
  • Failure to enforce social distancing rules
  • Failure to train security officers on COVID-19 protocols

The security officers at the Mercy Hospitals in Bakersfield and Dignity Health facilities across California want to be recognized as members of SEIU-UHW in order to win higher safety standards, stronger protections against COVID-19, more equitable treatment from management, and job security protections.

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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