News of the Week: Humboldt workers declare staffing emergency

NewsSeptember 19, 2018

Each week we share articles on subjects that are important to NUHW and its members. Here are several must-read stories over the past seven days:

Just two days after more than 100 of our members and nurses represented by CNA declared a staffing crisis at Providence St. Joseph Health’s Humboldt County hospitals, management laid off more than two dozen workers, multiple news outlets report. This week, workers stated their concerns to the Eureka City Council.

A state audit into nursing home finances that was spearheaded by NUHW research has resulted in a new law that will require nursing home operators to better document transactions with other companies also controlled by the same operator, according to the Eureka Times-Standard.

One of the terms of a mega-merger between Dominican Hospital parent Dignity Heath and Catholic Health Initiatives is status quo operation of Dominican Hospital, its emergency services, staff and facilities for five years post-agreement, reports.

As the demand for healthcare services slips away from hospitals and into outpatient settings, it’s taking a fair amount of jobs along with it, Modern Healthcare reports. Monthly U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports from the beginning of the year show hiring in the ambulatory sector has far outpaced hospital hiring at least since the beginning of 2018. In August, the ambulatory sector added 21,100 jobs—more than 60% of all new healthcare hires—compared with 8,200 new hires among hospitals.

San Francisco Marriott workers voted overwhelmingly last Thursday to authorize a strike, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Hotel workers around the country are embroiled in similar disputes. Chicago hotel workers have been striking for a week, and Hawaii and Boston Marriott workers voted earlier this week to authorize a strike.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is showing he won’t back down from powerful corporations like Amazon, Vox writes. If companies won’t pay their employees a living wage, Sanders argues, the government should recoup the cost of providing government services through a specific tax. Sanders is partnering with prominent House progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) on the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act, which would enact a tax on large corporations equal to the federal benefits their low-wage employees receive in order to make ends meet. Companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and American Airlines will have to pay every dollar in aid their workers get from the government back through taxes.

In recent decades, the nation’s tremendous economic growth has not led to broad social uplift, The New York Times reports. Economists call it the “productivity-pay gap” — the fact that over the last 40 years, the economy has expanded and corporate profits have risen, but real wages have remained flat for workers without a college education. Since 1973, American productivity has increased by 77 percent, while hourly pay has grown by only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage tracked productivity, it would be more than $20 an hour, not today’s poverty wage of $7.25.