Fountain Valley Sodexo workers on strike
Scores of striking housekeepers and cafeteria workers along with dozens of allies sent a strong message to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Sodexo that they will no longer accept poverty wages, unaffordable health insurance, and short staffing.
The February 1 one-day strike outside Orange County’s largest for-profit hospital drew numerous elected officials including Santa Ana Councilman Jose Solorio and Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras, as well as Anaheim mayoral candidate Ashleigh Aitken, Assembly candidate Josh Lowenthal, and several congressional candidates, including Andy Thorburn, Gil Cisneros, Phil Janowicz, Sam Jammal, andHans Keirstead, NUHW’s endorsed candidate to represent Orange County.
See the slideshow below.
OC Weekly published a story in advance of the strike, then updated the story with details from the picket line. The Los Angeles Times-owned Daily Pilot covered the strike in advance as well, and published a second story on the day of the strike. Becker’s Hospital Review also covered the strike.
And the Orange County Register ran a supportive opinion piece several days earlier, penned by Orange County Employees Association General Manager Jennifer Muir Beuthin.
The striking workers are employed by Sodexo, a multinational subcontractor, that is notorious for paying poverty wages.
Maria Roman told OC Weekly she has been working for Sodexo for eight years as a patient ambassador, and last week received a two-cent hourly raise from $10.98 to $11.
Roman and other Sodexo workers at Fountain Valley are seeking their first union contract with Sodexo and receiving support from NUHW-represented Fountain Valley employees, who last year signed their first union contract.
“We stick together for a fair contract for us, our families and our patients,” Roman told OC Weekly. “We will do whatever it takes!”
Solorio, the Santa Ana councilman said there was no excuse for Sodexo, which takes in billions in annual revenue, to ignore the demands of its workers.
“All we’re asking for is a living wage,” Solorio said. “We’re asking for a company that’s doing very well financially to share some of it with its workers. I’m going to keep coming back until we have a fair and just contract.”
NUHW President Sal Rosselli noted that Fountain Valley’s corporate owner, Tenet Healthcare, and Sodexo stand to reap tens of millions of dollars from the Trump corporate tax cuts but won’t raise wages for their lowest-paid workers. “We’re giving Tenet two choices,” he said. “Either fire Sodexo and bring everyone in-house or give Sodexo enough money to pay the same wages and benefits that everyone else makes.”
The strike at Fountain Valley comes on the heels of a video produced by NUHW of its members at three Southern California Tenet-owned hospitals — Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos Medical Center, and Lakewood Medical Center — who are paid so little that they collect and recycle cans to pay for basic necessities.
Most of the Sodexo workers seeking better wages are women, many of whom are the primary or sole support for their households, providing for spouses and children and in some cases elderly parents.