HCA workers picket in California

Members of SEIU Local 121RN held a picket Sept. 14 at HCA Healthcare's West Hills Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about their concerns over staffing, retention, patient safety and working conditions. Union members also plan to picket Sept. 15 at Los Robles Regional Medical Center.

The union, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union, represents 400 registered nurses at West Hills Hospital and 800 registered nurses and licensed medical professionals at Los Robles, a spokesperson said. Both hospitals are in Southern California.

Union members and the hospitals have been in negotiations for a new labor contract since May, according to a news release shared with Becker's. The union contends that during bargaining, the hospitals have not adequately addressed their concerns about staffing and working conditions. They say nurses are consistently stretched beyond California-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios, which creates an unsafe care environment for patients. 

"Patients deserve compassionate care," Corina Haney, a nurse who works in the burn unit at West Hills Hospital, said in the release. "When our hospital isn't following the ratios, we're cheating patients out of the care they need." 

"It hurts me personally to not be able to give them the best care I can, because I'm not being provided with the resources I need. This lack of support is driving nurses to leave the profession, our hospitals included," Ms. Haney said.

The pickets come as union members' latest contract expires Sept. 15. 

"Our goal continues to be to reach a fair agreement as quickly as possible and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen," a Sept. 14 statement from the hospitals' says. "Unfortunately, SEIU 121RN continues to prioritize demonstrations and theatrics like today's small event at West Hills Hospital." 

"As the collective bargaining agreement expires tomorrow, we look forward to meeting union leaders at the table to continue efforts to come to an agreement soon for the good of our colleagues, patients and community," the statement says.

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