HCA Florida workers vote to refuse voluntary overtime over staffing, safety concerns

Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East at HCA Healthcare-affiliated hospitals in Florida have voted to refuse voluntary overtime assignments due to what they say are safety concerns and a staffing crisis.

The union represents about 10,000 nurses, certified nursing assistants, technicians, dietary aides and other healthcare workers at 19 HCA facilities in Florida, according to a May 25 news release from 1199SEIU. HCA's website states that it operates 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 care sites in 20 states and the United Kingdom.

Union members said they have also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA has neglected to provide information requested during contract negotiations.

1199SEIU has made numerous requests for the information on safe staffing for patients and the care team and information on "sentinel" patient safety events that result in death, permanent harm or severe temporary harm, beginning in December 2022, the union contends.

In response, the union said its members in a concerted activity will refuse voluntary overtime assignments from June 2-7 and will continue seeking safe staffing levels, pay and other protections in negotiations.

"HCA can't run our hospitals without us volunteering to work overtime because of their understaffing," Donna Delia, a worker at HCA Florida Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, 1199SEIU union delegate and bargaining committee member, said in the union release. "It's time we sent a message that we won't be exploited or taken for granted anymore."

A statement from HCA, which was shared with Becker's, says in part, "At HCA Florida Healthcare, we believe a strong culture of respect and collaboration among our colleagues is critical to our mission. Our staffing is safe and appropriate, and expect there will be no impact on patient care or access to our facilities resulting from this activity."

News of the union activity comes after members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West reached a contract settlement with management, averting a five-day strike that was scheduled to begin May 22 at five HCA Healthcare facilities in California.

HCA called the most recent planned union activity in Florida "a bargaining tactic, which is part of this labor union’s normal actions during collective bargaining. During negotiations, which happen every three years, our goal is the same: to secure a fair agreement that continues to support a culture of colleague safety, care excellence and compassion."

HCA also noted recent recognitions from Healthgrades, including several HCA Florida hospitals being recognized as one of the nation's 250 best hospitals, as well as 100 best hospitals in the U.S. Additionally, HCA noted that several hospitals have been ranked among to the top 10 percent or top 5 percent in the U.S. for patient safety for several consecutive years.

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