Petaluma Valley members organize for COVID-19 safeguards

NewsAugust 27, 2020

NUHW members at Petaluma Valley Hospital work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Over the summer, COVID-19 case counts rose throughout Sonoma County and in the hospital. At the same time, the number of workplace exposures grew and staffing got worse. The hospital wasn’t testing staff who got exposed and seemed to be doing everything they could to decrease staffing, instead of increasing it.

COVID-19 unfortunately isn’t going away anytime soon, so members at Petaluma Valley acted fast, becoming the first NUHW bargaining unit with more than 50 percent of members completing COVID-19 surveys and to use the results to make demands of management.

“After getting a majority of our co-workers to fill out our union’s COVID-19 survey, we reviewed the results at a hospital-wide Membership Meeting, said Tracie Neigum, a radiological tech. “Overwhelming majorities were in clear support of policies that include hazard pay, increasing staffing, expanded paid precautionary leave and regular COVID-19 testing. We know these policies would make us and our patients safer at work, so we are now focusing our energy on getting them implemented.”

Stewards and members put together a formal proposal to the hospital around staffing, hazard pay, testing, paid leave, childcare, and more, and plan to meet with the hospital to bargain for these improvements. 

Members at Petaluma Valley know they’re not going to win improvements like better staffing or hazard pay without a fight. They had to strike in November 2019 in order to win a fair contract. But this pandemic demands that workers stand together and fight for what’s right — and that’s exactly what Petaluma Valley Hospital workers plan to do.