Hospital Workers to Strike Wednesday at St. Joe’s
St. Joseph’s Chief Executive Luskin-Hawk, M.D. sent a press release to several news organizations stating,”During the strike our hospitals will maintain daily operations and all hospital services and most outpatient services will remain open.”
The press release argues that the workers are asking for a “20% salary increase over a three year period.”
The workers say in their own press release that in retaliation for the strike, the hospital plans to lock out striking workers “for four days following the strike, leaving patients at St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial hospitals under the care of temporary workers until Monday, Nov. 25.”
Below is a press release from NUHW:
Hospital workers will strike Providence St. Joseph hospitals in Northern California next week, demanding contracts that ensure safe staffing and require the health care giant to invest its massive profits into its workforce and the communities it serves.
Caregivers, represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers will walk picket, lines from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 at…St. Joseph Hospital, 2700 Dolbeer St. Eureka.
*Workers will also strike on Nov. 20 at two Providence St. Joseph hospitals in the Bay Area and picket at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
In retaliation for the one-day Unfair Labor Practice strike, Providence St. Joseph is locking out striking workers for four days following the strike, leaving patients at St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial hospitals under the care of temporary workers until Monday, Nov. 25.
“A four-day lockout is an extreme act of retaliation that ultimately harms patients,” said Vincent Guevara, a pharmacy technician at St. Joseph Eureka. “We have blown the whistle on Providence St. Joseph siphoning millions of dollars from our communities while understaffing our hospitals, and now Providence executives are trying to silence us.”
Providence St. Joseph Health, the nation’s third-largest nonprofit health system, was formed by the 2016 merger of Providence Health & Services with St. Joseph Health, which operated St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial hospitals in Humboldt County, Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital in Sonoma County.
From July 1, 2018 through June 30 of this year, those five Northern California hospitals have netted more than $197 million in operating profits, including $63 million from its two hospitals in Humboldt County. Yet caregivers report that their facilities are severely understaffed following several rounds of layoffs in recent years.
In a recent union survey, 92 percent of bedside caregivers at Providence St. Joseph hospitals throughout Northern California reported that their shifts are understaffed at least once a week. Nursing assistants reported having to care for as many as 20 patients at a time.
Instead of using its resources to fix the problem, Providence is refusing union proposals to increase staffing share staffing matrixes with workers. The company is also seeking to cut health benefits and reduce vacation time, while offering only a 1.25 percent raise to Humboldt County caregivers in each of the next two years.
“We need caregivers to provide quality patient care,” said Kellie Shaner, a monitor technician at St. Joseph Eureka. “And our hospitals won’t be able to recruit or retain quality workers if we can’t make enough to help support our families.”
In October, Attorney General Xavier Becerra blocked Providence St. Joseph from joining its Northern California hospitals those of Adventist Health, finding that the partnership was not in the public interest because it had “the potential to increase health costs, and potentially limits access and availability of health care services.” Caregivers in Humboldt County had urged Becerra to deny the partnership, noting that Providence over the last two years has fallen nearly $1 million short of its charity care obligation in Humboldt County required under its merger with St. Joseph Health.
“Providence trying to retaliate against caregivers for blowing the whistle on its greed, but we’re going to keep fighting until the company values its workers and patients as much as its profits,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said.