More headaches for Universal Health on plan to replace DC hospital

Two labor unions have pledged to derail a plan to replace the District of Columbia's only public hospital on the Southeast Side unless its members can keep their jobs and union contract, Bloomberg Law reports.

District of Columbia officials have been negotiating a deal since 2018 to replace United Medical Center with King of Prussia, Pa.-based Universal Health Services, a for-profit health system that owns most of George Washington University Hospital, and its business partner, George Washington University.

Progress in negotiations stalled last year, partly due to a lawsuit filed in December by the university against Universal Health, accusing it of keeping profits that should have been invested in the university's medical school and physician network, Bloomberg Law reported.

And now 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the District of Columbia Nurses Association — which collectively represent roughly 680 UMC workers — are expressing their displeasure with the plan.

The unions reportedly object to Universal Health's employment practices and want D.C. officials to negotiate with a different operator.

"What we want to definitely stress is that UHS is not the right partner for this hospital," Yvonne Slosarski, communications coordinator for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, told Bloomberg Law. "If the deal falls apart because of the union in some way, then the union has done its job — not only for the healthcare workers at the hospital but also for patients. "

Despite the delays, D.C. officials said they expect to have an agreement to present for the D.C. Council's consideration early this year. 

City Administrator Rashad Young told Bloomberg Law there remains a "fair amount of disagreement" among the involved parties over what labor protections should be included in the deal.

Read the full report here.


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