Kindred San Diego workers strike for fair pay
Vanik Sarkissian, a lab scientist at Kindred Hospital San Diego, ended a three-day strike with his colleagues this month more determined than ever to win a fair contract from their employer.
“We showed that we’re willing to apply pressure and that we’re not going to give up,” he said.
Sarkissian was among the approximately 20 laboratory and pharmacy workers at the 70-bed hospital, who held a three-day strike from October 23 to 25, after joining NUHW earlier this year.
The strike came five months after approximately 100 workers at the hospital already represented by NUHW won a contract that will increase wages by an average of 26 percent.
However, Kindred has refused to consider comparable wage increases for pharmacy and lab workers who unionized in February.
Since contract talks began in July, the hospital has insisted on limiting wage increases to as little as 2 percent per year and setting salary floors as low as $21 per hour for pharmacy technicians.
Low pay has resulted in high-turnover among pharmacy technicians, which has forced pharmacists to assume more responsibilities, Robin Ohrem, a pharmacy technician told ABC-10 in San Diego.
“Pharmacy techs receive very low pay here and if we’re always fighting to get technicians here and they don’t stay… it’s really pulling away from patients safety in two ways,” she said.
Like Sarkissian, Ohrem said that the strike had strengthened her resolve and that the company needs to come back to the table with a proposal that includes competitive salaries that would allow them to retain staff.
“We’re going to keep negotiating until they are more realistic with what they’re willing to offer us,” she said.