Dignity Health workers to protest staffing levels at 26 California facilities

Members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West will protest and picket throughout March at 26 Dignity Health facilities in California.

The union represents about 18,000 Dignity Health workers statewide, including respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians, dietitians, laboratory assistants, social workers, environmental services/housekeeping and other front-line staff, according to an SEIU-UHW news release shared with Becker's. Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives and San Francisco-based Dignity Health merged in 2019 to create Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health.

Union members contend they are chronically understaffed in about every department, putting patients and workers at risk.

"We are so short-staffed, we only have time to see the sickest of the sick," Andrea Tuma, a  respiratory therapist at Dignity's Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., said in the union news release. "Those with chronic, non urgent needs have to wait, usually until those needs become urgent. We end the day feeling like we didn't do enough when we did everything we could."

Union members said they seek to address their staffing concerns through ongoing contract negotiations. 

SEIU-UHW workers at Dignity Health are bargaining for a new contract. The current contract expires on April 30.

Dignity Health shared the following statement with Becker's: "We recognize and respect the right of our employees to participate in informational picketing events. These events are related to ongoing contract negotiations between Dignity Health and SEIU-UHW. The safety of our caregivers and patients is our highest priority. Hospital operations are not impacted by these events."

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