REDWOOD CITY — Hundreds of support workers at Sequoia Hospital walked out of the job Monday to strike for better wages, benefits and working conditions after negotiations with Dignity Health for a new contract stalled.
The 300 nurses’ assistants, aides, surgical techs, respiratory therapists, housekeepers cooks and other essential workers voted 95% to go on strike July 7 after four months of failed contract negations with the Dignity Health system and its President Bill Graham.
Workers say the company has failed to “adequately address issues of fair pay and benefits” while also advocating for recruitment and retention of staff which has become “a major problem and has led to a crisis in patient caseload.”
On Monday, dozens of workers holding picket signs and shouting slogans like “enough is enough” and “4% won’t pay the rent” gathered at Dove Beeger Park in front of Sequoia Hospital alongside sympathetic elected officials like state Senator Josh Becker, San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa and Menlo Park Mayor and Supervisor candidate Ray Mueller.
REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA – JULY 18: Janice Karan, of San Mateo, holds her daughter Aavana Singh,4, during a union rally at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, Calif., on Monday, July 18, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Dignity Health External Communications Manager Kevin Kimbrough said in a statement that the AFSMCE bargaining unit at Sequoia consists of about 300 technical and service employees, but does not include registered nurses. During the strike, he said, the hospital “will maintain its operations in order to continue to serve our community and provide care to our patients.”
As inflation makes the price of living in the Bay Area even higher and exorbitant gas and rent prices put increasing pressure on working families, workers like housekeeper Vicki Harper have had enough.
“We will no longer accept Dignity management’s pennies,” Harper said. “We deserve a fair contract with healthcare, better staffing ratios and better wages. We can’t live on their pennies. We will stay out here for as long as it takes and we will stand tall, united and together.”
Sequoia hospital workers have described the “horrible” conditions they work under, noting that they are “being stretched so thin” that workers are being “forced to work with less, which means they have less time they can spend with patients — time that can be lifesaving,” according to a press release from AFSCME Council 57.
Workers say the staffing crisis has been exacerbated by the fact that compensation …read more
Source:: The Mercury News