Sutter Hospice San Mateo workers defeat anti-union effort, join NUHW

NewsMay 11, 2022

Several dozen workers who provide home hospice care for Sutter Health in San Mateo have voted overwhelmingly to join NUHW.

Despite a fierce anti-union campaign from Sutter management, the approximately 50 caregivers, including nurse preceptors, medical social workers and chaplains, voted on April 28 to join a growing number of Sutter employees organizing with NUHW.

The Sutter workers in San Mateo started organizing as management sharply increased their workload and arbitrarily imposed frequent changes to their work schedules.

“As management changed, we felt ignored,” said medical social worker Andrea Ritner. “We hope that management really listens now and we have a seat at the table for a lot of workplace decisions.”

Sutter fought hard to defeat the organizing campaign, scheduling one-on-one meetings with workers and announcing raises for non-union workplaces, although those raises were never implemented.

Nurse preceptor JB Marcos said the unionizing effort was stressful but rewarding, and gave his colleagues a sense of “being a team again” and working to improve conditions for themselves and the families that depend on them for care.

“We are elated that we have finally formed a union and feel that we finally get to have a say in our work environment, job descriptions, and our pay and benefits,” Marcos added.

Sutter San Mateo workers are now starting to identify their top priorities for contract bargaining. “Pay is a big thing, benefits are another big issue, and patient workloads,” Ritner said.

NUHW now represents more than 1,000 Sutter workers with recent organizing wins of Sutter Care at Home employees in Sacramento, Concord, San Leandro, and San Francisco.

More organizing drives are underway, and the workers in San Mateo think other workers who provide hospice care for Sutter will be eager to follow their lead.

“With us leading the way,” Marcos said, “other hospice branches might do the same seeing that we were able to make it happen.”