NUHW members agree to contract that will boost wages up to 42 percent by 2020

May 15th, 2018

In another important step toward improving the lives of some of Southern California’s lowest-paid workers, hospital workers represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers overwhelmingly approved a contract that will include raises of up to 42 percent over 18 months.

The 117 union workers at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital voted 99 percent for a contract that will increase minimum hourly wages from less than $11 to $14.84 by the beginning of next year. The contract covers housekeepers, and cafeteria workers who work at Orange County’s largest private hospital but are employed by Sodexo, a French subcontracting conglomerate known for paying poverty wages.

Last October, NUHW started a campaign to raise salaries at five Southern California hospitals where it organized members employed by Sodexo.

The first victory came earlier this year when the University of Southern California, facing mounting public and political pressure, agreed to stop contracting with Sodexo for workers at its Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. For the nearly 50 workers, becoming direct USC employees resulted $3-per-hour raises, free family HMO health insurance, and a retirement plan with a 5 percent employer contribution.

At Fountain Valley, workers will remain Sodexo employees, but their first-time contract will provide them with hourly wage floors that will start at $13 and increase to $14.84 in January of 2019. With wage scales providing additional annual raises, workers currently making $11 per hour will make at least $15.61 by January of 2020. Workers currently making more than $13 an hour will see their wages increase by as much as 9 percent per year. And all Fountain Valley Sodexo workers will pay up to 20 percent less for their health insurance.

“These contracts are improving people’s lives,” said NUHW President Sal Rosselli. “Workers who struggle every day to support their families are getting good raises, better benefits, and more respect at their jobs.”

During contract talks, NUHW highlighted how Sodexo and Fountain Valley’s corporate parent Tenet Healthcare stand to save tens of millions of dollars from the Trump corporate tax cut, yet were refusing to devote any of those funds for worker raises. Sodexo workers at Fountain Valley staged a one-day strike in February.

“It feels great to finally get a big raise and to know that we can win important victories when we stand up to big multinational corporations like Tenet and Sodexo,” Housekeeper Lilia Manso said.

NUHW is continuing to negotiate for Sodexo workers at Tenet hospitals in Los Alamitos and Lakewood.