Workers to strike Sutter psychiatric hospital in Sacramento for three days starting Tuesday, April 23

Press ReleasesApril 19, 2024

Contact: Matthew Artz, 510-435-8035,

Picket line will run from 6:30 to 11 a.m. 

Nearly three years after forming a union, approximately 150 workers still seeking their first contract will strike the Sutter Center for Psychiatry for three days starting Tuesday, April 23. The workers, who include mental health therapists, kitchen staff, licensed vocational nurses and patient care support specialists, held a one-day strike last December and are continuing to demand a contract that improves wages, preserves affordable health benefits and addresses unsafe staffing levels and worsening conditions for patients.

“We haven’t had a raise in three years,” said Kenisha Campbell, a unit secretary and patient care support specialist, who lives in Sacramento with her husband and four children. “A lot of us are doing double shifts and working on our days off because we’re living paycheck to paycheck and we’re so short-staffed.”

WHO/WHAT: A three-day strike of hospital workers including social workers, licensed vocational nurses, housekeepers, kitchen staff and patient care support specialists.

WHEN/WHERE: Workers will walk picket lines from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 23 to Thursday, April 25 outside the Sutter Center for Psychiatry, 7700 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento.

The Sutter Center for Psychiatry is the only non-profit psychiatric hospital in Sacramento County and a key component of Sacramento County’s behavioral healthcare system. Owned by Sutter Health, the 73-bed facility contracts with the county to provide care for adults and children with serious mental health conditions. Medi-Cal recipients account for 57 percent of patients admitted to the hospital.

Workers formed a union in 2021 to address low pay and have more say in patient care. As patient acuity levels have increased since the start of COVID, workers report that there’s often not enough staff on duty to provide adequate care. In a recent union survey, 79 percent of respondents reported experiencing understaffing at least once a week, while 58 percent reported experiencing unsafe situations at work due to understaffing.

Sutter reported a combined $477 million operating profit in 2021 and 2022, but the healthcare giant is insisting on eliminating the free healthcare plan that workers have had for years and making them pay progressively more for their health care throughout the term of the contract.

In addition to healthcare benefits, the other major remaining sticking point in negotiations are wages for the patient care support specialists, who comprise the largest group of striking workers. The care specialists spend the most time with patients, helping them bathe, taking vital signs, performing urinalysis and conducting frequent patient welfare checks (often every five minutes) as well as physically restraining patients who are a threat to themselves and others.

The physical nature of the job often results in workers getting injured and staffing shortfalls, but Sutter still pays many of them under $25 per hour. The company also singled out the care specialists following the December strike by locking them out for an additional two days without pay while allowing other workers to return to work right away.

“Sutter doesn’t care about our safety or the safety of patients,” Campbell said. “We value our patients and take pride when they leave here and are no longer in distress, but Sutter doesn’t value us or the work we do.”


The National Union of Healthcare Workers is democratic, member-led union that represents 19,000 healthcare workers in California and Hawai’i.