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More Wellpath employees join NUHW

NewsApril 27, 2022

Fifty-four caregivers at the Lerdo Pretrial Facility AES (Admission, Evaluation and Stabilization) Center in Bakersfield voted overwhelmingly in April to join NUHW.

The caregivers include registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, competency intervention specialists, care coordinators, mental health technicians and clinical psychologists who provide health care and mental health services to incarcerated individuals in Kern County.

These workers withstood a vigorous anti-union drive from Wellpath, a private equity-owned firm that was intent on dissuading them from voting to join NUHW.

But the caregivers stood firm against Wellpath, and are now organizing to win a contract that will improve working conditions and patient care, while giving them a real voice in their workplace.

“We work in a facility that treats mental health, but corporate is worried more about their wealth than their essential workers,” said Erika Molina, a mental health technician.

Sierra Herring said that she and other long-tenured employees were being paid less than recent hires.

“We are overworked and not compensated fairly,” Herring said. “The understaffing does not allow for my coworkers and I to take days off to care for our mental health.”

NUHW now represents Wellpath workers at correctional facilities in four counties: Alameda, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Kern. In Sonoma and Stanislaus counties, where Wellpath members joined NUHW in 2020, they have already successfully lobbied their county administrators to strengthen accountability measures in Wellpath’s contract to help limit chronic understaffing.

The new NUHW members in Kern County will now conduct a survey to identify priorities for contract bargaining and elect a committee to negotiate a new contract with management.