NUHW members picket Kindred hospitals over safety and wages
Dietary workers, respiratory therapists, and nurses came out in droves to picket Kindred Hospital Brea and Kindred Hospital Westminster in Orange County on September 2. The workers demanded that Kindred address security concerns that put them and their patients at risk, and that the company pay them wages that are on par with those of unionized workers in other nearby hospitals.
For the past four months, the workers have been negotiating a labor contract that should recognize their hard work and sacrifice during the most challenging time in their careers.
“We have been fighting for fair wages to match the work we do with our patients,” said Kindred Hospital Brea RN Olivia “Olive” Lejarde. “A small ripple can cause a tidal wave, just like this picket got lots of attention from patients, patients’ families, the doctors, and the community due to the great energy from us here at Kindred Brea.”
Despite Kindred Hospital Brea and Westminster posting net revenues of $3.9 million and $3.7 million, respectively, in 2021, the company has rejected proposals to increase salaries that would achieve an adequate level of staffing.
The company is cutting corners in security, leaving the employees, patients and visitors exposed to car thefts and other vandalism. Recently, an employee’s brand-new car was stolen from Kindred Hospital Westminster, where thieves have also stripped cars of catalytic converters that cost hundreds of dollars to replace. An investigation revealed that the security cameras at the hospital have not been working for the past 18 months.
The workers are demanding the hospitals provide 24/7 on-site security and working cameras at their hospitals, where patients and workers have complained about car thefts and other security incidents.
Several local elected officials and community allies also joined the picket lines at both hospitals, where they pledged their support to the workers. Among them were Congressional Candidate Jay Chen, State Assembly Candidate Diedre Nguyen, Westminster City Councilmember Carlos Manzo and Garden Grove City Council Candidate Asia Cunningham. Also attending were members of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), and the Orange County Labor Federation.
“My coworkers and I, from Kindred Brea and Westminster, took public action to show Kindred that we are willing to do what it takes to improve our wages and for safer working conditions,” said Kindred Hospital Westminster respiratory therapist Chris Malonzo, who often led his coworkers in chants outside the hospital during the picket.
NUHW members will continue negotiating with Kindred to win the best contract possible for them, their families and their patients. Their next bargaining session is October 4.