Phlebotomists win higher salaries, $6,000 in back wages
Several phlebotomists at Queen of the Valley Medical Center are several thousand dollars richer after fighting together to be compensated for the additional work required of them.
The phlebotomists at the Napa County hospital’s outpatient lab don’t just draw blood, they also register patients and verify insurance.
The Providence-owned hospital was content to make them do more while still paying them under the standard phlebotomist classification in their contract, but workers were intent on being paid fairly.
They brought their concerns to stewards, who worked with their organizer to engage management. At first, it appeared a fair solution would come quickly. Since there was no job classification in the contract that matched their job assignments, the hospital’s acting head of Human Resources agreed to create the new title of Senior Phlebotomist with a $2 per hour pay raise.
But before the agreement was put in place in April of 2022, the hospital hired a new head of Human Resources who reneged on it, claiming her predecessor never had authority to sign off on the agreement.
Workers responded by filing a grievance, an Unfair Labor Practice violation with the National Labor Relations Board and a wage theft claim with the California Labor Commissioner.
Meanwhile the hospital cycled through another head of Human Resources and also had to replace its top attorney. With the grievance finally scheduled to go before an arbitrator recently, the hospital, knowing it had little chance of prevailing, offered a settlement that essentially provided the workers everything they had hoped to win in arbitration.
Under the terms of the settlement, Queen of the Valley agreed to create a new classification of Senior Phlebotomist, reclassify the phlebotomists working in the outpatient lab as such, and pay the affected workers $6,000 in lost wages for the year long battle that they had to endure to see the increase.
“It took a lot longer than we expected, but our concerns were acknowledged and addressed in the end,” said Jennifer Mini-Bera, a phlebotomist at the hospital. “I’m proud that everyone in the lab stayed united and that we got everything that the hospital had initially promised to provide.”