22,000 HCA workers begin contract bargaining

Service Employees International Union kicked off contract negotiations on behalf of 22,000 members at facilities operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare. 

The union represents HCA workers at 30 hospitals in California, Nevada, Texas, Kansas and Florida, according to a Feb. 6 SEIU news release. HCA operates 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 care sites in 20 states and the United Kingdom.

Union members in the five states are slated to negotiate contracts in the coming weeks and months. The first bargaining session of this year occurred in California at the end of January. National bargaining kicked off this week with sessions scheduled for Feb. 8-9 in California.

"We're fighting for a contract that honors those lost [while providing patient care during the pandemic] and makes HCA finally live up to its responsibilities to patients and workers as a hospital industry leader," Fernando Perez, a phlebotomist represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in the union release.

Specifically, union members are calling for better staffing, protections and other improvements needed for safe patient care. They also seek a minimum wage as high as $25 per hour for hospital workers at some facilities. 

HCA shared the following statement with Becker's: "As always, our hospitals will bargain in good faith to reach agreements that are in the best interest of our caregivers, our patients and the communities we serve. HCA Healthcare's staffing is safe, appropriate and in line with other community hospitals. In the most recent safety ratings by the independent Leapfrog Group, 81 percent of HCA Healthcare's hospitals earned an 'A' or 'B' [letter grade]; this is 24 percentage points better than the national average."

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