Caregivers to hold largest-ever strike ever at Children’s Hospital Oakland
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Workers to Hold One-Day Strike Wednesday, April 19
The strike will be the largest in the hospital’s history. Registered nurses, operating engineers and other caregivers are striking in sympathy with more than 1,200 workers who have been without a contract since last year.
Picket lines will form at 6 a.m. in Oakland and 9 a.m. in Walnut Creek
OAKLAND — Workers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland will hold the largest strike in the medical center’s history Wednesday amid the hospital’s refusal to protect jobs and medical services in the East Bay.
The one-day strike was authorized by more than 1,200 members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who include licensed vocational nurses, medical technicians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, housekeepers, food service workers, office workers, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and nursing assistants. The workers have been without contracts since last year.
More than 800 hospital employees represented by the California Nurses Association and the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union have authorized a one-day sympathy strike in solidarity with NUHW members. Also striking in sympathy will be the hospital’s operating engineers, represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39.
While a 2014 affiliation agreement that put UCSF Health in control of the non-profit 223-bed Oakland hospital and satellite clinics was touted as the best approach for strengthening the institution’s finances, doctors and other caregivers in the East Bay have repeatedly raised concerns about UCSF under-resourcing care in the East Bay and making families travel across the Bay to UCSF’s children’s hospital in San Francisco.
“We want patients to get the best possible care here in the East Bay, and UCSF isn’t committed to delivering it,” said Stephanie Lum Ho, an office associate at the hospital’s Walnut Creek outpatient center. “We’re understaffed, and patients are underserved.”
UCSF halted bargaining last week, and has rejected offers to resume negotiations in an attempt to avert a strike.
The strike will run from 6 a.m. Wednesday, April 19 until 6 a.m. Thursday, April 20.
Strikers will include more than 1,200 members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland employees represented by the California Nurses Association, Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 39 will join their NUHW-represented colleagues on the picket line as part of a one-day sympathy strike.
Picket lines will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday outside the Oakland hospital at 747 52nd St. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday outside the Walnut Creek Pediatric Outpatient Center, 2401 Shadelands Drive.
There will also be a noontime rally outside the Oakland hospital.
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland is one of five Level One pediatric trauma centers in California. The hospital accepts all patients no matter their income level or insurance status, and more than 70 percent of patients get their health coverage through Medi-Cal.
Since UCSF took control of the hospital in 2014, it has:
Closed the Children’s Hospital Research Institute that was renowned for its pioneering sickle cell anemia research.
Moved the Sleep Lab and speech therapy services from Walnut Creek.
Moved most cardiac procedures to San Francisco.
Cut staffing in half for early intervention mental health services.
Forced children leaving the NICU to wait months for feeding therapy because of ongoing staffing shortages.
“We serve families that deserve to have care in their community,” said Ruth Crowe, an NUHW-represented social worker at the hospital. “At the bargaining table, we talk about how our community-based programs are shrinking, but management is in denial. Our programs and services are under attack, and UCSF will continue to diminish what we can provide unless we stand together and fight.”
Fears of further cutbacks have only increased after the President and CEO of UCSF Health Suresh Gunasekaran sent a warning that UCSF Health is projecting a $200 million budget shortfall in 2023 and warning that it must “operate more efficiently.”
In recent negotiations, UCSF has rejected proposals that would:
Require that Children’s Hospital Oakland workers be offered comparable positions should UCSF take full ownership of the hospital.
Provide sufficient notice of any further service or job reductions in the East Bay.
Ensure that all Children’s Hospital Oakland workers are paid comparably with their counterparts at UCSF hospitals in San Francisco.
Stop its wage theft practice of requiring caregivers with advanced training to perform higher level work, while keeping them in lower-paid classifications.
# # #
The National Union of Healthcare Workers represents more than 16,000 caregivers in California, including more than 1,200 workers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.