After 2 strikes, hundreds of Sutter Health employees approve new contract

More than 350 healthcare workers at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Calif., have approved a new contract after going on strike twice earlier this year over concerns about staffing and working conditions, according to the union that represents them. 

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West, which represents the workers, announced Sept. 14 that Sutter Delta workers planned to strike in October unless an agreement was reached, and workers began a five-day strike Oct. 4. In November, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West members went on strike a second time. The final approval of an agreement was announced Dec. 16. 

"This agreement was possible because we as a union stood together to improve patient care and advocated for safe staffing levels. We are relieved to know that dozens of positions have now been posted," Stefanye Sartain, a respiratory therapist at Sutter Delta, said in a news release. "We are proud to have negotiated a four-year agreement that recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work and gives us the peace of mind to focus on safely caring for our patients."

According to the union, the agreement includes:

  • Posting all unposted staff positions, many of which have been filled
  • Providing annual raises of 3 percent or 4 percent in each year of the contract, "with bonuses to recognize the dedication of long-term employees"
  • A $4 million investment in Futuro Health, a nonprofit focused on increasing the number of certified allied healthcare workers in California and across the U.S.

Sutter Delta is part of Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health. SEIU-UHW members at Sutter Delta include front-line workers such as emergency room technicians, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, transporters and licensed vocational nurses. 

In a statement to Becker's, a Sutter Health spokesperson said the agreement they reached is "consistent with the agreements that every other SEIU-represented hospital in our integrated network of care approved months ago. Despite the disruptions of two strikes called by SEIU representatives who claim they prioritize patient safety, we reached an agreement that hits the critical benchmarks we set for ourselves: supporting and rewarding our employees for their important work and maintaining the strength and stability of our hospital for everyone who depends on us."

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