Workers at Sonoma Jail vote to join NUHW

NewsJuly 27, 2020

Approximately 70 workers at Sonoma County Jail, including nurses, nursing assistants, mental health professionals, and clerks, voted overwhelmingly to join NUHW. 

The election in Sonoma County followed a unanimous vote in May by nearly 100 Stanislaus County Jail healthcare workers to join NUHW. Healthcare workers at both jails are employed by Wellpath, one of the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare providers for prisoners.

Workers at both the Sonoma and Stanislaus jails started organizing with the goal of protecting their jobs and reversing cuts to the health benefits. But, as the pandemic hit, they found themselves struggling to get adequate PPE and sufficient testing.

“Organizing during a pandemic wasn’t easy, but we know it’s been worth it,” said Dana Martin, a nurse at Sonoma County Jail. “With COVID-19 cases rising in Sonoma County, we need the power of a strong union that will help us fight for sufficient PPE and strong infection control protocols to keep us safe.”

Wellpath management fought the organizing drive, and even tried unsuccessfully to prevent a vote-by-mail election despite the ongoing pandemic.

“I’m excited to start bargaining our contract to win fair raises, protect our benefits, and improve our staffing ratios,” said Suzy Kimani, a nurse and member of the organizing committee. “We finally have a voice to advocate for reasonable workloads so we can take better care of our patients.”

Next steps for these new members will be conducting a survey to identify priorities for contract bargaining and electing a committee of members who will be responsible for negotiating with management.