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2,000 Cedars-Sinai service workers plan to strike Monday

Cedars Sinai Medical Center and other California hospitals are among the most expensive for many common treatments. (Photo by Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Citing “unfair labor practices as well as employee and patient safety issues, staff shortages and low wages,” members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West plan to stage a one-day strike. week beginning at 5 a.m. Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The union, which has been negotiating with hospital management for a new contract since March 21, represents some 2,000 certified nursing assistants, surgical technicians, sterile processing technicians, transporters, environmental services workers, plant and food service technicians. The hospital has about 14,000 employees in total.

Doctors, registered nurses and nurse practitioners are not part of the union and would not be among those leaving work.

Sally A. Stewart, associate director of media relations at Cedars-Sinai, said in a statement to the City News Service that the union had given the hospital strike notice and the hospital was prepared to maintain security. patients.

“The nurses, doctors and researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are not part of the union,” Stewart said. “Our nurses and doctors will continue to provide the high level of patient care that we are known for.”

Union spokeswoman Renee Saldaña told the City News Service that workers plan to leave work, in uniform, beginning at 5 a.m. Monday and hold picket lines until 7 p.m. Friday, unless an agreement is reached. Workers scheduled for shifts at 7 p.m. Friday and beyond would then return to work, she said.

“Cedars-Sinai health care workers call on their employer to stop committing unfair labor practices and bargain in good faith,” the union said in a statement last week.

“Employees are also concerned about receiving basic protections to keep patients and workers safe. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was recently awarded a hospital safety rating of “D” by the independent watchdog consumer healthcare company, Leapfrog Group. The ‘D’ rating is a downgrade from Cedars’ previous safety rating of ‘C’, which was issued in the spring of 2021.”

Specifically, the union’s statement cited “below average” ratings in infection control; a range of surgical issues; safety issues such as pressure sores and blood clots; and practices to avoid errors.

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“Earlier this month, Cedars-Sinai employees picketed to protest the hospital’s threat to workers and patients after Cal/OSHA issued the hospital with seven citations for violating OSHA regulations designed to protect workplace safety,” the union statement said. “Four of the citations were classified as serious health and safety violations related to the prevention of COVID-19.”

The union also argues that the hospital failed to bargain in good faith.

“We are very frustrated that despite risking our lives to provide top-notch healthcare to our patients, Cedars-Sinai management has not bargained in good faith and continues to commit unfair labor practices. Management does not appear to take patient or worker safety seriously,” Luz Oglesby, the hospital’s clinical partner, said in a union statement.

“In our last round of negotiations, Cedars-Sinai rejected our proposals on PPE inventory, COVID exposure notifications, distancing of pregnant and immunocompromised workers from COVID patients, and other safety measures. We demand basic protections in the workplace and respect for the life and health of caregivers and patients.”

Meanwhile, Stewart, the hospital’s spokesperson, said, “At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, we strive to maintain the highest standards of quality and service in the care we provide. Our employees are key to this success, and Cedars-Sinai has always recognized this by offering industry-leading compensation and benefits.”

His statement went on to say, “We respect the rights of SEIU-UHW members to take this step. The most effective way to reach a fair agreement, however, is for both parties to remain at the negotiating table and complete the negotiations.”

Stewart said that when negotiations began on March 21, “Cedars-Sinai presented a strong economic proposal that would have maintained our market-leading salary by providing substantial wage increases to employees in the bargaining unit as of the March 27.”

“Cedars-Sinai has had a strong working relationship with our SEIU-UHW represented employees for years, and we are committed to strengthening those bonds,” Stewart added. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with SEIU-UHW to reach a mutual agreement.”

Saldaña, the union’s spokeswoman, told City News Service that she expected a high turnout at the picket line on Monday morning “because it’s been going on for a while and the workers are just extremely frustrated with it. what happens with the negotiations”.

“The workers, our union members, they don’t want to have to strike, they don’t want to have to leave their patients,” Saldaña said. “It’s also about giving them better patient care.”