Seton workers force concessions after strike authorization
NUHW members at Seton Medical Center and Seton Coastside refused to let the new owner of both facilities deny them a fair raise.
While AHMC, the for-profit company that bought the facilities for $40 million through bankruptcy proceedings, insisted that a 3 percent raise would be satisfactory, NUHW members prepared to strike if the hospital didn’t improve its offer.
A strike seemed inevitable when AHMC tried to make an additional 1 percent bonus contingent on patient survey reviews. NUHW members, who include more than 570 nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, medical technicians, office workers and housekeepers, countered that any negative patient outcome surveys were the result of AHMC severely understaffing and under-resourcing the both facilities. The company has failed to pay vendors multiple times since taking over, forcing workers to buy food for patients at Costco.
Confronted with the prospect of a strike, AHMC finally gave in and agreed that there would be no strings attached to the additional bonus. The two year contract includes:
- Three percent annual raises plus an additional 1 percent bonus.
- A requirement that AHMC ensure that workers who had their wages frozen for two years as the bankruptcy proceedings took place are caught up on the wage scale.
“This contract demonstrates how much we can accomplish when we hold firm and stick together,” said Suad Husary, a respiratory care practitioner. “AHMC didn’t even want to give us a 3 percent raise, and we made them give us more, with no strings attached. Now we need to show the same unity and resolve to make AHMC invest in our hospital to improve working conditions and the care our patients receive.”