Sodexo employees at Tenet hospital in California set to strike Thursday

Sodexo workers at Fountain Valley (Calif.) Regional Hospital and Medical Center — a member of Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare — were set to strike Thursday amid efforts for a labor deal, according to the union.

The one-day strike affects housekeeping and food staff represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. According to union officials, workers are striking to protest what they deem as low pay, short staffing and expensive healthcare benefits.

"It's outrageous that Tenet and Sodexo both stand to reap millions from the Trump corporate tax cut, but they are cheating taxpayers by having hospital workers make so little they qualify for [the state's Medicaid program], Medi-Cal, food stamps and other forms of public assistance," NUHW President Sal Rosselli said in a statement emailed to Becker's Hospital Review.

Union officials said workers are also concerned about "high staff turnover" and "chronic understaffing" they claim have negatively affected patient care.

Sodexo spokesperson Enrico Dinges expressed disappointment about the strike in a statement to Becker's Hospital Review. However, he said Sodexo has negotiated in good faith with the union and intends to reach an agreement "that's equitable for everyone, including our employees."

"We hope that our striking employees will return to the job as we work with the union to establish a new agreement," Mr. Dinges added. "In the meantime, we've worked quickly with our managers at the Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center to continue service and meet the ongoing needs of the patients and their families, visitors and hospital staff."

Thursday's strike began at 6 a.m. local time and is scheduled to end at 6 p.m., with a rally at noon. NUHW spokesperson Justin DeFreitas estimated about 50 workers on the picket line around 9:30 a.m., and said he expects the other half to arrive at 11 a.m. He said he also expects other Fountain Valley workers to join the picket line on their lunch break, as well as a number of community supporters. 

As of about 9:30 a.m., hospital spokesperson Katherine Lane estimated approximately 25 participants on the picket line. In the meantime, she told Becker's Hospital Review, Fountain Valley "is fully operational and our focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care."



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