Valencia Healthcare Workers Hold Unfair Labor Practice Strike


Workers at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital launched a 24-hour unfair labor practice strike Monday, March 20, claiming the hospital has engaged in illegal bargaining tactics as they push for higher wages and increased staffing.

The hospital disputes that claim.

The workers, represented by UE Local 1004, picketed the Valencia facility throughout the day and held a rally at noon to draw attention to their concerns. The union represents more than 750 patient care attendants, surgery techs, respiratory therapists, radiology techs and others.

Their labor contract expired Jan. 31.

“They have refused to continue bargaining with us and won’t come to the table to hear our proposals,” said Stacy Suarez, a surgical tech at the hospital and a member of union negotiating committee.

Workers say the hospital is experiencing high turnover because of low wages and chronic understaffing — factors that undermine patient care.

Suarez said some of the lowest paid workers at Henry Mayo earn less than $17 an hour, while management has offered to boost that to $17.50.

“These are poverty wages,” she said. “In-N-Out pays its workers anywhere from $17 to $19 an hour, and some of our employees went to school for their jobs and carry professional certifications.”

Data from show company “associates” at In-N-Out Burger locations in California average $17.47 an hour, while “retail sales associates” average $19.39.

UE Local 1004 alleges the hospital has prohibited hospital workers from wearing union stickers or discussing negotiations and has threatened retaliation against those who do, which is a violation of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

“If we’re on break we should be able to speak about whatever we want to,” Suarez said.

The hospital disputed the union’s claims in a statement issued Monday.

“While the union has characterized this as an ‘unfair labor practice strike,’ the reality is that Henry Mayo has not in any way committed any unfair labor practices and this strike has nothing to do with any alleged treatment of our employees,” the statement said.

Henry Mayo said it has “followed the law and bargained in good faith at all times.”

“Sadly, despite our best efforts, since the beginning of our negotiations four months ago a small group of union leaders has seemed intent on attempting to disrupt patient care and holding a strike,” the hospital said.

Irma Ibarra, an ultrasound tech at Henry Mayo, said she’s never called in sick during her 19-year tenure at the hospital.

“Today I’m out here on the picket line because the hospital administration has refused to treat us fairly, forcing hundreds of dedicated employees to strike for the respect our community deserves,” she said.

The hospital said is it “taking necessary steps to ensure every one of our patients always receives safe, high-quality care, regardless of our labor situation.”

Henry Mayo’s one-day strike comes on the heels of similar actions held at other Southern California hospitals in recent months.

In February, SEIU-UHW-represented workers at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks picketed that facility, also claiming they’re chronically short-staffed and unable to adequately meet patient needs.

And registered nurses at six Southern California hospitals picketed their facilities in January as part of a nationwide call for increased staffing amid a winter surge of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 patients.

Those workers — represented by the California Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United — held protests at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, Emanate Health Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance and Community Hospital of San Bernardino, among others.

The issue of chronic understaffing was amplified in February when Kindred hospitals across Southern California held a hiring event to fill openings at hospitals in Los Angeles, Baldwin Park, Brea, La Mirada, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Santa Ana, West Covina, Gardena and Westminster.

That event was part of a nationwide recruitment effort at the healthcare company’s 60-plus hospitals in 17 states and online.

Ufficio Stampa

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