California hospital workers plan 2-day strike

Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers are set to begin a two-day strike March 25 at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., part of Alhambra, Calif.-based AHMC Healthcare.

The strike is being held by approximately 430 Seton Medical Center workers, including nursing assistants, licensed vocational nurses, respiratory therapists, housekeepers and medical technicians, according to an NUHW news release shared with Becker's

Union members contend that AHMC, a for-profit provider that finalized the purchase of Seton Medical Center in Daly City and Seton Coastside in Moss Beach, Calif., from Verity Health System, a bankrupt system based in El Segundo, Calif., in 2020, changed its health plans on Jan. 1 in violation of union contracts. 

AHMC imposed the health benefit changes to all union employees, including nurses, but the strike is being held by workers whose contracts expired in December 2023, according to the NUHW.

"Instead of honoring those sacrifices, [AHMC] recently cut their health benefits, leaving many Seton caregivers unable to access medical care for themselves and their families," the union release said.

Union members contend they are forced to pay up to $6,000 a year to keep access to their physicians and hospitals or accept a new health plan with few participating physicians mostly based in San Francisco and only two participating hospital systems: Walnut Creek, Calif.-based John Muir Health and Seton, which does not offer pediatric or prenatal care. 

Seton said in a news release shared with Becker's that the hospital has offered employees, the top 5% of whom average $181,000 in annual salary, overtime and personal time off, "outstanding wages and extraordinary medical benefits," including:

  • 16% pay increases over three years
  • Free medical benefits for employees and their immediate families
  • Up to 400 hours of accrued paid time off each year 

"We are disappointed with NUHW's decision to walk off the job in the middle of our negotiations at the expense of patient care, despite Seton Medical Center offering great pay, excellent benefits and substantial paid time off," Sarkis Vartanian, BSN, Seton Medical Center administrator, said in the release. "Our priority remains providing uninterrupted care to our patients and our community while supporting our dedicated staff."

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