400 healthcare workers rally at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center

Four hundred healthcare workers and their supporters rallied at Pomona (Calif.) Valley Hospital Medical Center at noon on Oct. 19 to pressure hospital executives who they say have put profits and executive pay above quality and affordable medical care.

Along with the rally, the workers held a formal press conference with U.S. Rep. Norma Torres (D), State Sen. Connie Leyva (D) and Rust Hicks, leader of the L.A. County Labor Federation.

"We call on Pomona Valley Hospital to show the same level of commitment to patients as the healthcare professionals who care for them," Jeanette Castillo, a phlebotomist at Pomona Valley Hospital, said in a statement from the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. "These days, our hospital seems more interested in boosting profits and CEO pay than doing what's best for the members of our community who have a right to expect the best possible care."

"I urge Pomona Valley Hospital to honor the democratic vote of its employees and not delay the process further," said Rep. Torres. "This hospital plays such an important role in the community, and it's critical that employees and administration work together to strengthen patient care."

Healthcare workers voted in January on whether to join the SEIU-UHW. Those who voted to unionize argue the hospital is refusing to recognize their votes, as 531 workers voted in favor of SEIU-UHW and 458 voted against SEIU-UHW. However, the outcome of the vote has not yet been officially determined because there were 214 challenged ballots. The National Labor Relations Board's Hearing Officer has agreed to open and count 62 of the challenged ballots, but the hospital is still waiting for a decision from the NLRB's Regional Director regarding the hospital's exceptions to the NLRB Hearing Officer's report on the remaining 152 ballots.

"We believe that the 152 ballots should be counted. It is important to us that all of our associates' voices are heard on such a critical matter. As of this date, the NLRB's Regional Director has not yet issued a ruling," a statement from the hospital read.

"With the pending decision by the NLRB's Regional Director, SEIU-UHW is trying to pressure the Hospital into giving up its right to utilize the procedures of the NLRB by spreading information apparently intended to make consumers question the quality of care at our Hospital. Our associates are dedicated to providing a higher standard of care to our community and we are proud of the collective work of our associates in helping us achieve a number of national safety and quality recognitions this year."

Note: This article was updated 10/19/16 and 10/20/16.

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