After 9-year Struggle, Santa Rosa Memorial Caregivers Reach Contract Settlement

NewsApril 5, 2012

Santa Rosa, California – On Tuesday night, workers at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital (SRMH) reached a tentative agreement with management for a union contract with across-the-board wage increases, improved retirement benefits, seniority rights, just cause rights, employment security protections, representation rights, and other workplace protections and improvements.

The agreement caps a nine-year effort by Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital employees to win union recognition and a fair labor contract. 

The nearly 700 formerly non-union workers initially attempted to organize a union through SEIU United Healthcare Workers – West, but were abandoned by SEIU after the union’s Washington DC leadership initiated a hostile takeover of the local union, UHW.  Defying SEIU’s attempt to assist management in persuading workers to vote for “No Union” rather than join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), workers voted to join NUHW in December 2009 in the nation’s biggest hospital organizing victory of that year.

Following their vote to join NUHW, the employer held up government certification of the election for over a year.

The organizing campaign at SRMH is the subject of a recent book entitled “With God On Our Side.”

“It’s been nine long years, but now that we have a great contract, it’s been worth every minute of it,” said Anne Beach, a Surgical Database Specialist at SRMH. “Our experience shows that when you stick together and you don’t give up, you win.  That’s what NUHW is all about.”

“I’ve been proud to stand with labor and community members, elected officials and religious leaders in support of caregivers at Santa Rosa Memorial,” said Lisa Maldonado, Executive Director of the North Bay Labor Council.  “These caregivers are an integral part of our community. They’re the people who care for us and our loved ones when we’re sick. They deserve to be treated fairly and respected for the vital work they do. This agreement is the culmination of a long struggle and I’m excited about the achievement that this contract represents.”

Workers will vote to ratify the agreement next week.