Tarzana workers picket against mass layoff

January 12th, 2017

TARZANA, CALIF. — Workers are picketing Providence Tarzana Medical Center on Monday to protest the hospital’s effective termination of roughly half its housekeeping staff, many of whom had been vocal union supporters.

The hospital for years had contracted out housekeeping work to outsourcing firms that paid poverty wages. Providence Tarzana is finally bringing these jobs in-house, but it’s refusing to bring aboard at least 25 housekeepers, claiming they are somehow unqualified to do the jobs which many have done for over a decade.

On Monday, these workers will return to the hospital to pick up their final paychecks after logging a combined 245 years of service there.

The picket will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday outside the hospital at 18321 Clark Street, Tarzana, CA.

Many of the terminated employees are Latinas, who made no secret that they planned to join their co-workers as members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers upon working directly for the hospital. Kicking them out of the hospital is blatant act of intimidation by Providence Tarzana management to scare housekeepers from joining the union.

“How can the hospital say I’m not qualified for a job I’ve been doing for 11 years?” asked Sandra Quintanilla, a single mother of an autistic child. “I think it’s because I’m with the union. Management knew I helped organize my co-workers, and now it looks like the hospital doesn’t want pro-union workers.”

 

The Catholic hospital has refused multiple requests by workers and faith-based organizations to explain its rationale for letting go of so many longtime workers. One employee said she was led to believe that her English wasn’t good enough to continue working at the hospital.

“They only said that we have to speak English, but a lot of us speak good English,” said Celia Ortiz, who had worked at the hospital for 16 years. “I still hope to have my job back. I feel like it’s my life in there.”

Hospital caregivers organized Monday’s picket as part of its campaign to urge the hospital to rescind the terminations.

“It’s unthinkable that a hospital whose stated mission is community service would turn its back on workers who collectively have served it for a combined 245 years,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “Making these workers reapply for their jobs was unfair. Refusing to hire them is unconscionable and a blatant attempt at union busting. Our 575 members at Providence Tarzana always stand up for their coworkers, and we are intent on making the hospital live up to its values.”

Last month, caregivers held a vigil for the housekeepers that was covered by Spanish language outlets. On Tuesday, they launched a video on Facebook that has been viewed 13,000 times in the cities served by the hospital.