Monterey County Herald: Hundreds of SVMH employees strike

June 22nd, 2011

From The Monterey County Herald:

Temporary workers brought in to fill strikers’ positions

By Jim Johnson

Posted: 06/22/2011 01:49:38 AM PDT

Hundreds of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital employees walked off their jobs or didn’t show up for them Tuesday in protest about contract negotiations.

While the National Union of Healthcare Workers’ plan was for a one-day walkout, many of them could find themselves out of work longer than they expected.

Hospital officials said those who had to be replaced with a temporary employee won’t be able to return to work until Friday. That is because the 130 temporary workers brought in as replacements, at a cost of about $550,000, must be hired for a minimum of three days.

“We simply can’t afford to pay two workers for the same job,” Salinas Valley Memorial spokeswoman Adrienne Laurent said. “Members of NUHW are our valued employees and we look forward to the time when these challenges are behind us. We are committed to doing our part to conduct negotiations with integrity and care for our employees, and in a manner that protects our community and patients.”

Union vice president John Borsos called the move an illegal lockout and said the hospital is breaking its promise to employees by using the tactic. Borsos said hospital officials are obligated to offer a 10-day notice before locking out workers.

“They can call it whatever they want, but it’s a lockout,” Borsos said. “I think the hospital is exposing itself to pretty significant back-pay liability. But it proves the hospital doesn’t have the patients’ and the community’s best interests at heart.”

Read the full story at The Monterey County Herald.