Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Illegally Locking Out Workers for Two Days

NewsJune 22, 2011

Decision Exposes District to Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Back Pay Liability and Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims Against Board Members

Salinas, California – Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) management is trying to lock out striking caregivers for two days in violation of state labor law and a signed enforceable agreement with the National Union of Healthcare Workers not to lock out workers without proper notice.

About 800 SVMH employees walked off the job and onto the picket line at 6am yesterday, protesting management’s refusal to bargain in good faith and its insistence on implementing dozens of layoffs and cutting benefits for hundreds of workers even while paying $12 million to Wellspring, a scandal-plagued management consulting firm based out of Chicago. Workers provided advance notice of their intent to strike for 24 hours, informing the hospital that they would return to work at 6am today.

Responding to notice of the strike, management hired replacement workers for three-day durations, illegally displacing workers for 48 hours following the work action.

This illegal act exposes the hospital to hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay liability and further exposes the hospital’s board of directors to potential breach of fiduciary duty claims for purposely violating an enforceable agreement with the union. The board’s questionable financial practices and possible conflicts of interest have already prompted an unprecedented audit of the healthcare district by the State of Cailfornia.

“This is retaliation, plain and simple,” said Cynthia Barajas in the Laboratory Department. “Management has known for ten days we’d be striking for 24 hours. They’ve had plenty of time to prepare to transition workers back to their jobs the following day. Instead, they chose to orchestrate a punitive lockout, to try to show us who’s boss.”

“This won’t discourage us in the slightest,” said Francisco Espaza, a Dietary worker. “If anything, it makes us even more resolved to win a fair contract that puts patients and caregivers first. Furthermore, it reinforces why it was so necessary for the state to audit the healthcare district.”