LOS ANGELES–Today, Registered Nurses from Garfield Medical Center and Greater El Monte Community Hospital joined together with community supporters to challenge unsafe staffing practices implemented by corporate-owner AHMC Healthcare.
Nurses say the hospital dangerously cuts corners, often forcing nurses to be shifted outside of their unit of expertise and experience to cover departments where they aren’t sufficiently trained.
“Our patients need committed consistent care. When hospital management cuts corners, they put patients at risk,” said Maria Elena Diaz, a Registered Nurse at Garfield Medical Center. “Families come to our hospital expecting enough nurses and support staff to ensure safety and care. We need the hospital and its management to place the safety and health of our community first.”
“Because they don’t hire enough Nurses, they’re constantly moving us around to cover shortages throughout the hospital—often to areas that require specific expertise,” says Weng Fei Fung, a Registered Nurse at Garfield Medical Center. “Most of the RNs who are left on the floor have less than a year of experience because they can’t be used as subs. Can you imagine if we had a Code Blue or something happened to a patient and we weren’t able to effectively help our patient?”
RN’s also protest management’s controversial system of giving RNs a double patient load to cover for each other during breaks and lunches. Again, this is a dangerous practice that cynically ignores California’s nurse-to-patient ratio regulations.
“More than half the time, nurses in my unit work without a Break Relief Nurse. That means the Charge Nurse now has to cover four to eight patients, leaving the important Charge Nurse duties unattended,” said Leyna Tran of Garfield Medical Center. “So, what happens if an RN on the floor needs the Charge Nurse’s expertise or assistance when something suddenly goes wrong? This isn’t safe.”
The nearly 600 registered nurses in the two hospitals are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 121RN and are currently in negotiations with AHMC Healthcare, where they have heavily prioritized improvements to staffing and patient safety.
Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents more than 9,000 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals at 27 hospitals and facilities in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 26, 2018
Terry Carter, (805) 312-0024
SEIU Local 121RN President Gayle Batiste, RN, CNOR, released the following statement on California’s recent approval:
“The state’s conditional approval of the merger of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives into CommonSpirit Health raises red flags for the Registered Nurses of Dignity’s Northridge and St. John’s hospitals. RNs and other healthcare advocates see cause for alarm in these mega mergers in general. There’s no evidence that they either improve patient care or control skyrocketing healthcare costs for our communities. The only thing they do is eliminate competition, which is rarely good for either employees or consumers.
“A giant red flag in this particular merger remains CHI’s extremely poor financial position. We anticipate that this will endanger the future financial outlook of all hospitals in this merger. While we are relieved to see that California will require CommonSpirit Health to provide charity care, we fear that this could force reductions to our hospitals’ overall operating costs. We have seen too often that a hospital’s promise to maintain services can be simply words if they’re experiencing financial shortfalls. If a hospital is in the red, they’re going to cut somewhere. Too often the line item that administrators cut first (and most) is staffing levels, in addition to other dangerous corner-cutting that puts patient safety at extreme risk.
“At Northridge hospital, where I work in the Operating Room, we have already experienced unfilled vacancies while these merger discussions took place. Some of our RNs were on call for as long as 48 hours at a time. We spoke up and forced the hospital to see that this was unsustainable. We were at risk of complete burnout and would eventually be unable to provide our community with trauma, cardiac or stroke care.
“The other red flag, of course, is this merger doubles down on a single religious viewpoint that seeks to restrict women’s reproductive healthcare services and disregards the standard of care for women—in what will be the largest nonprofit hospital system in the nation. While we were relieved to see that the DOJ’s approval document requires maintenance of women’s reproductive healthcare services for more than the initial consultant’s recommendation of five years, it does not go far enough. The approval allows CommonSpirit Health to notify the DOJ of any proposed reduction in women’s reproductive healthcare or emergency services as soon as year six, at which time the DOJ will assess the impact on the community. We had asked the Attorney General’s office to require at least 15 years of continued services.
“We also continue to share the concerns of community partners such as Health Access California on the impact to the LGBTQ community, including continued care for those transitioning. While the DOJ’s approval includes language protecting against discrimination, there is no language ensuring continued access to this kind of care. Eliminating this care, in our view, would indeed be discriminatory. And as President of SEIU Local 121RN, the Union representing three Dignity hospitals, I also personally urged the Attorney General to include language protecting LGBTQ hospital employees from discriminatory treatment. We continue to have concerns about the culture of these hospitals and will be vigilant whenever we see discrimination.”
Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents nearly 9,000 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals at 27 hospitals and facilities in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.
Dear SEIU Local 121RN Members,
Tuesday, October 9th, our Executive Board (made up of your colleagues chosen by you to represent Union members at each of our hospitals) selected our new Executive Director, who will work with me and the other Officers and Executive Board to lead our Union. After a thorough, months-long interview process and a selection vote, the Executive Board selected Rosanna Mendez, currently our Union’s Chief of Staff, as Executive Director.
Rosanna will begin her new role in January and will work with me, the other Officers and our full Executive Board to continue the work of building our Union strength in all of our hospitals and at the state capitol.
Rosanna brings 17 years of experience in the labor movement, including more than 15 with SEIU and nearly six here at 121RN. At 121RN, she has worked alongside and shared responsibility with our Executive Director, Sue Weinstein, in a shared vision to improve representation, bargain strong contracts, strengthen our Steward training and recruitment program, and strategically grow our political and member activism campaigns to win solid Nurse and patient laws in Sacramento.
I have worked closely with Rosanna and I know she will bring her incredible energy and deep commitment to leadership growth and development to this important role in our Union.
As Executive Director, Rosanna will supervise the day-to-day operations of the Union, including supervision of Union staff, fiscal management of the Local, and accurate maintenance of membership data. A full description of this role can by found in Article 7 of our Union’s Constitution and Bylaws.
Please join me in welcoming Rosanna into her new role.
And I know you all join me in thanking our longtime Executive Director Sue Weinstein for her many years of service to building this Local during very challenging times. We look forward to our continued work with her until the end of the year, while she transitions out of her role and into the next chapter of her life. We wish you all the best, Sue!
|Gayle Batiste President,
SEIU Local 121RN
RN, CNOR, Northridge
After solidly rejecting a proposal from management to settle our Union contract, we issued a strike notice. Management continued to tell us it just wasn’t “in our business plan” to provide equal pay with RNs in nearby Dignity facilities with the same job title and same job duties.
Just before the strike date, management sat down with us again. We negotiated a settlement that moves RNs to scale in the master Dignity Collective Bargaining Agreement in July 2020. In the meantime, we will receive an 8% increase this year; a ratification bonus of 1.5% of wages paid between October 15, 2017, and the ratification date; and an additional 1% raise in May of next year.* A 2% increase in May 2020 will bring us to parity with other Dignity RNs.*
On May 2, 2018, Dignity Infusion RNs ratified this Tentative Agreement.
*Note the across-the-board increase in 2019 and the wage scale in 2020 have not been negotiated yet. The current contract expires in June 2019.
Questions? Contact our Bargaining Team or our Union Representative
Chris Slane at (805) 279-1198, email@example.com
Questions? Contact our Bargaining Team or our Union Representative
Chris Slane at (805) 279-1198, firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions? Contact our Union Representative Chris Slane:
(805) 279-1198, email@example.com
Management is not bargaining in good faith. They have put things on the table and then taken them back. They have submitted misleading wage proposals. They have continued to disrespect our expertise, our commitment to our patients and our rights as union members. Our Bargaining Team recommends a strike authorization vote. A strike vote does not mean that we will strike. It means we are voting to ensure that we are strong, united and ready to strike if it’s necessary. Dignity is pushing us in that direction with their disrespect. We are still in active negotiations with Dignity. A strike vote sends a strong message to management that we will not back down when it comes to prioritizing patient and nurse safety over “budgetary” savings.
“After much discussion, we are united in our recommendation to authorize a strike. Those of us on the Bargaining Team have experienced too much disrespect of the bargaining process. For example, they told us we can have the wage scale when in fact under their proposal no one would get above step four. We don’t consider this good faith bargaining.” — Our Bargaining Team
(pictured Left to Right: Renee Tallent, Angelea Vasquez, Lorraine Shea)
Questions? Contact Chris Slane at (805) 279-1198 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WE MIGHT HAVE ABOUT THE STRIKE VOTE:
Why are we considering a strike?
SEIU Local 121RN members have been in negotiations with management to reach a collective bargaining agreement. Management is not bargaining in good faith. We are still in negotiations with Management. A strike would be called as a last resort.
We’re hopeful that a strike won’t be necessary. We will continue to keep everyone informed about whether or not we see progress in our ongoing negotiations.
Do I have to Strike?
The expectation is that you will honor the picket line to show your unity with our co-workers and our full
Can my manager ask me if I’m planning to strike?
Management may ask you if you’re going to strike but you are not obligated to tell them. You may simply say, “Our Union has advised members that we have the legal right to keep our strike plans private.” Management does not have the right, however, to ask in a hostile or coercive manner, and must assure the worker that there will not be retaliation for participation in the strike.
Are 90-day probationary RNs expected to strike?
Even though federal law protects all striking workers, because probationary employees can be let go with no explanation required, we do not recommend that probationary employees participate in a strike.
Will my patients be safe and taken care of if I strike?
The law requires that we give the hospital 10 days notice before we strike. This will give the hospital ample time to hire temporary RNs. Your patients will be cared for by fully licensed RNs.
Will I be covered by my health insurance during the Strike?
Your health insurance premium is paid at the beginning of the month and remains in effect all month.
Will I be paid for striking?
No. We all must prepare to make a short term sacrifice for long term gains.
I have surgery scheduled, can I use sick leave? Or, I’m getting married, can I use my vacation time?
Generally, you cannot use sick leave or vacation time while on strike. If you have scheduled your vacation or surgery prior to the strike vote, management will generally honor those requests. If your plans have not been pre-scheduled and we are on strike, you should be at your worksite on the picket line every day. If you are ill on a strike day, management will usually require a doctor’s note as verification. Strikes are not a “day at the beach.”
Will I be paid by my employer when I am on Strike?
No. However, you will receive a paycheck from your employer for any hours worked before or after the strike when it is normally received.
Do I need to call the nursing office on days we’re on strike?
No. As a healthcare facility, our Union is required by law to give 10 days notice of when we will go on strike to the hospital and to tell the hospital when we will return.
Will night shift workers be walking the picket line at night?
Due to safety concerns, night shift workers will not picket at night. Night shift workers will, however, be expected to be on the picket line during daytime hours. We will be signing people up for picketing times.
Please check our hospital page at www.seiu121rn.org frequently for information and updates.
It’s important to remember: Informational pickets are NOT strikes. They are held on our own time before work, during breaks / lunchtime, after work, or on our day off to educate our communities about issues that we all care about.