HCA workers in California plan Thanksgiving week strike

Members of SEIU Local 121RN plan to begin a five-day strike Nov. 22 at three HCA Healthcare facilities in Southern California: Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks; West Hills Hospital; and Riverside Community Hospital.

The union cumulatively represents more than 2,400 nurses and licensed medical professionals at the three hospitals, according to an SEIU news release shared with Becker's. This includes registered nurses and licensed medical professionals like pharmacists, lab scientists, and physical and occupational therapists. Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA's website states that it operates 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 care sites in 20 states and the United Kingdom. 

Union representatives and HCA have been negotiating a new labor contract since May. The union contends that during negotiations, striking nurses and licensed medical professionals have repeatedly raised concerns related to staffing, patient and staff safety, but that HCA has failed to meaningfully engage with their proposals. Nurses also contend that cost-saving measures implemented by HCA are at the root of many problems they have brought forth.

Union representatives wrote on Facebook that workers are striking to "ensure workers have the resources for compassionate care." 

HCA Far West Division spokesperson Carmella Gutierrez expressed disappointment about the union's decision to strike.

She said in a statement shared with Becker's that during negotiations, HCA has made "genuine attempts at finding common ground and offering a fair and competitive wage increase.

"Among our many strong proposals is a wage offer that provides all represented colleagues with a minimum 14% increase to base rates over the life of the contract."

A strike could still be averted if both sides reach an agreement. Meanwhile, the hospitals have taken proactive measures to continue providing care throughout a strike, Ms. Gutierrez said. 

"We are drawing on the strength of our nationwide HCA Healthcare system to ensure each hospital is fully operational," she said. "Our doors will remain open throughout any labor union activities and, importantly, there will be no closure of any service lines at this time.

"We are here to care for our patients with the same dedication and excellence as always."

The strike is slated to begin at 7 a.m. on Nov. 22 and last until 7 a.m. on Nov. 27. Picketing outside of the hospital will take place Nov. 22-26.

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