Caregivers at Kindred Hospital Westminster hold informational picket Tuesday, October 21

Kindred Hospital Bay AreaOctober 21, 2014


Caregivers at Kindred Hospital Westminster hold informational picket Tuesday, October 21
NUHW members protest hospital’s unsafe staffing policies, refusal to bargain in good faith with union

Caregivers represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers at Kindred Hospital Westminster are holding an informational picket Tuesday, October 21, to protest Kindred’s refusal to bargain in good faith with their newly formed union. Kindred caregivers are seeking a voice in hospital decisions regarding patient care, patient advocacy, staffing, and workplace safety.

Kindred Westminster workers will picket Tuesday from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. outside the hospital at 200 Hospital Circle in advance of the next bargaining session, scheduled for Wednesday, October 22. It will be a joint bargaining session between Kindred management and caregivers at Kindred Westminster and Kindred Brea, who also recently formed a union with NUHW.

Westminster City Council member Sergio Contreras has expressed his support for Kindred workers and will visit the picket line at noon.

Kindred administrators have brought the collective bargaining process to a standstill by making themselves available for bargaining with NUHW members just one day a month. With critical issues at stake regarding patient care and patient advocacy, Kindred’s delays have had a harmful impact on the quality of care and on employee morale.

“We need a voice in staffing and patient care,” said Rodney Nelson, a respiratory therapist at Kindred Hospital Westminster. “We need Kindred management to listen to our ideas if we are going to improve the quality and safety of patient care at the hospital.”

Kindred has been “flexing” staff in its facilities — cross-training caregivers to do many tasks but not providing them with the time or resources to do them well. Kindred workers say management’s expectations are unrealistic and undermine the quality and safety of patient care.

“Kindred is not motivated by high standards of patient care but by the bottom line,” said Nelson.

Kindred Westminster has the means to do better. The hospital’s profit margin has grown steadily over the past few years, rising from 8.42% in 2010 to a staggering 33% in the first quarter of 2014. In 2013, the hospital made more than $12 million in profit. This year, Kindred Westminster is on track to double that, having brought in more than $6 million in profit in the first quarter alone.

Kindred executives are doing well, too. In March, an article by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that in December of last year, Kindred gave its outgoing CEO a $10,000-a-day retirement deal.

Meanwhile, compensation and benefits for Kindred’s frontline caregivers are much lower than industry standards. Many Kindred Westminster employees work two jobs to make ends meet. Yet the hospital’s administrators are trying to get more work out of their employees while increasing workers’ out-of-pocket healthcare costs and maintaining low wages.