Political Victories:

Winning Strong Contracts, Protecting Workers

Political Victories:

Winning Strong Contracts, Protecting Workers

Political power makes a real difference in being able to win strong contracts and protections for healthcare workers on the job. Not only through passing better laws, but by building relationships with elected leaders so that they have our backs when our employers don’t.

St. Francis Medical Center – CDPH Guidelines 2022

A picket and press conference were organized at St. Francis a Prime Hospital in Lynwood, CA following CDC guidelines that cut isolation time to 5 days for those who contract COVID. At this and other Prime hospitals in the region, COVID positive employees were pressured to return to work while contagious even while other major hospital networks decided this to be an unwise and unsafe policy for patients and workers. UHW sought the support of local Congresswoman Nanette Barragan to bring attention to this concerning practice. Upon her arrival, both the Congresswoman and UHW member Mayra Castaneda were addressed directly by management to discuss the terms of the Union’s demands. Our aim was to end the dangerous practice of sending COVID positive workers into the facility while contagious, provide exposure notices to those who have been exposed, and allow open access to testing at the worksite. Due to the Congressmember’s willingness to speak out, Prime immediately agreed to all the demands for safer working conditions and a swift victory was won.

Stanford Medical Center

Contract Campaign 2020: SEIU-UHW represents 1,535 members at Stanford Medical Center and 565 members at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and the contract expired on September 6, 2020. Our goal was to get early support for our frontline healthcare workers ahead of bargaining. We secured letters of support from Congressional, state and local elected officials to the Stanford CEO to negotiate a fair contract for healthcare workers. Elected officials also supported workers through social media posts.

Watsonville Community Hospital

Contract Campaign 2018: A proposed ballot initiative filed in 2018 would limit Watsonville Community Hospital from charging patients more than 15 percent above a reasonable cost of providing care. This initiative highlights the overcharging of patients and has gained an overwhelming support of elected officials and community organizations in the area.

Dignity Security Guard Campaign (2022-Ongoing)

During the deathly COVID-19 pandemic, non-unionized security officers at Dignity Health foundation faced extreme threats to their lives and livelihoods. They dealt with un-equal treatment, lack of safety, un-equal wages, and workplace violence often without any form of representation. Our union was able to garner the support of 65 elected officials across the state standing in solidarity and behind the workers having a right to unionize with our union.

Anaheim Global/Chapman Medical 2021

KPC was planning to close their Emergency Room’s at Anaheim Global and Chapman Medical to then open an Urgent Care in Low Income Latino Neighborhoods. We had conversations with our Local Elected Allies to educated them on the situation, they then were able to reach out to KPC Leadership and speak with the press with the facts about how it would negatively the community. It was this pressure that then caused KPC to cancel their plans and keep their ERs open.

Doctors Hospital of Riverside 2021-2022

UHW Members in Doctors Hospital of Riverside suffered low wages and low staffing levels. After negotiating for several months their contract expired and still management wouldn’t negotiatein good faith. During the info picket Senator Roth had staffers come in support of the workers. Armed with the information from the picket Senator Roth (who was a former board member of DHOR) made phone calls into management to inquire about reports of unsanitary working conditions and low staffing levels. In preparation for a potential strike, we recruited a roster of Local and State electeds who were going to come stand with SEIU members on the picket line. Facing all of this and a strike DHOR settled less than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the strike.

St. Francis Medical Center 2020

At the height of the pandemic, Prime laid off workers in what appeared to target many active union members who were outspoken about bad faith practices at the hands of the employer. UHW engaged political allies to support the laid off workers. This effort led Prime healthcare to reconsider their bad faith practices, ultimately leading to over 100 workers gaining their jobs back.

Kaiser Permanente – Gardeners 2019 & Patient Care Technicians 2020

In early 2019, KP management announced their plans to terminate the positions of 63 gardeners represented by UHW who create pleasant, healing conditions for patients and workers at hospitals and clinics throughout Northern California. In early 2021, among the hundreds of positions KP proposed to eliminate in NorCal was 33 Patient Care Technician positions at Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, direct caregivers who had cared for COVID-infected patients for a year or more. UHW’s strong political campaigns succeeded in saving these jobs, with dozens of elected officials and community allies joining UHW’s two campaigns by coming to rallies, candlelight vigils and overnight protests, writing letters and making phone calls to KP decisionmakers, and more. UHW’s strong political campaigns succeeded in saving these jobs, with dozens of elected officials and community allies joining UHW’s two campaigns by coming to rallies, candlelight vigils and overnight protests, writing letters and making phone calls to KP decisionmakers, and more.

Kaiser Permanente (Solidarity with Engineers Local 39) – Winter 2021

In the fall of 2021, IUOE Local 39 members who maintain the complicated hospitals and medical buildings operated by KP in Northern California conducted an open-ended strike after their contract expired and negotiations with management stalled. UHW members and the rest of the regional Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions remembered the solidarity Local 39 members provided when they announced plans to strike in solidarity with UHW and the CKPU when our Unions gave strike notice in October 2019, which supplemented our strong political campaign which backed those negotiations and helped those extremely difficult negotiations reached a successful end. In November 2021, UHW and the rest of the CKPU conducted the largest sympathy strike in the United States since 1894, and UHW led the organizing of an unprecedented political response to support the strike, with 128 elected officials and community allies turning out at dozens of hospital picket lines during that one-day strike. Local 39 continues to resist KP management demands that they accept a bad deal, and UHW has built a huge amount of political support to see through a successful end to these negotiations. This is a crucial part of setting good bargaining conditions in advance of UHW’s negotiations with Kaiser in 2023.

Sutter Health, Northern California 2021

In 2021, dozens of elected officials wrote letters and contacted top Sutter executives during their contentious, slow negotiations with UHW members. The workers won their best standards ever, including the first multi-hospital contract Sutter has ever negotiated with a Union. When Sutter Delta Medical Center management refused to fill over three dozen open positions which left staffing levels devastated in the middle of an escalating pandemic, two Congressmembers were among the many elected officials and other allies at many levels who joined Sutter Delta workers on the picket line and offered other support when they conducted two separate one-week strikes in the fall of 2021. When management continued their unreasonable responses after the second strike, UHW members prepared to file a city ballot initiative which could have created a new law to improve staffing and defend patients and workers. Sutter Delta management quickly agreed in writing to fill all the open positions. Incredible solidarity on the picket line was necessary for Sutter Delta workers to gain this final win of our Sutter contract fight, but they would not have won without their equally strong political campaign.

Telecare Psychiatric Inpatient Hospitals 2020

Willow Rock Center in San Leandro provides psychiatric crisis services to many of the most challenging adolescent patients in the Bay Area, and over 50 caregivers who provide that care fought to gain UHW representation in 2020 to create safer working conditions and improve pay and benefits which were inferior to Telecare workers represented by UHW at other nearby hospitals in Alameda County. Three County Supervisors wrote letters to the Telecare CEO asking management to deal fairly with the workers as they pushed to have their Union election. With first contract negotiations moving slowly after the workers won UHW representation, the same County Supervisors asked Telecare management to settle a fair agreement promptly, and the workers soon won big pay and job quality improvements in their very first agreement.

John Muir Behavioral Health 2021

Federal, State, County and City elected officials contacted John Muir management in early 2021 as 111 workers fighting for Union representation faced a harsh, expensive management campaign which tried to coerce them into voting against UHW representation. After the workers voted overwhelmingly to join UHW, elected officials continued to let management know they were watching as the workers conducted their first negotiations. The workers won a strong agreement in only a half year of negotiations, and the voters again voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract.

El Camino Hospital 2021

With the help of political allies such as Assemblymember Evan Low, Senator Dave Cortese and other local officials, we were able to successfully organize multiple picket demonstrations. These helped highlight the abuses of members in the workplace and the substandard contractual terms on offer by the employer. With continued political support we were able to exert the necessary pressure on Hospital management to fight and win a fair contract renewal.

Watsonville Community Hospital 2021-Ongoing

With the help of our political allies such as Senator John Laird and Assemblymember Mark Stone, as well as local County and City officials we were able to organize support to keep Watsonville’s doors open while a deal could be worked on. Our political allies in Sacramento have been able to push for the hopeful creation of a new hospital district for Watsonville to be incorporated into and help to broker a new management deal to keep the Hospital serving the community.

Kaiser Permanente – 2019

In 2019, we negotiated a renewal of a collective bargaining agreement covering 55,000 workers with Kaiser. During this year we were able to secure letters from 93 California state legislators (in the Assembly and Senate) who called on Kaiser to cease their attempts to create a two-tiered wage system, regional wage systems, an end to employee pensions, and an end to free health insurance for Kaiser workers. In addition, we were able to pass and sign SB 343 into law which required Kaiser to publish financial and insurance data more transparently and turn out a plethora of elected officials to statewide labor rallies calling on Kaiser to bargain a fair contract and in good faith. In the end we got a great contract with no takeaways and $130 million money to establish Futuro Health, which invests in skills training and retraining for potential and current allied healthcare workers throughout the State of California.

HCA 2020

During the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, HCA’s Regional Medical Center and Good Samaritan in San Jose, decided to wage an attack on frontline healthcare workers by cutting their retirement plans, even though HCA received more than $5.3 billion in taxpayer funded relief. Members met with elected officials in the region and were able to secure a letter from half the San Jose City Council calling out the two facilities for punishing Healthcare Heroes. In addition, we attained the support of Asm. Ash Kalra, Santa Clara Supervisors Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez.