Sutter workers plan strike at psychiatric hospital

Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers plan to strike Dec. 6 at the Sutter Center for Psychiatry in Sacramento, Calif.

The union represents nearly 150 workers at the 73-bed psychiatric hospital, according to a Dec. 4 NUHW news release shared with Becker's. The hospital is part of Sutter Health, a 23-hospital system with locations across Northern California.

Union members, which include mental health therapists, social workers, licensed vocational nurses, housekeepers, kitchen staff and patient care support specialists, have been in negotiations for a new labor contract for the last 18 months, according to the release. They contend that Sutter Health has not adequately invested in them or the care they provide. They also contend that the organization has not improved its contract offer since workers held an informational picket in November.

"We do this work because we want to help people, but we can't help patients if we're understaffed and have no say in the care we provide," Alton Wood, a licensed clinical social worker at Sutter Center for Psychiatry, said in the release. "Since COVID, we've been getting patients who are sicker, and we're overwhelmed with constantly trying to help people who are having the worst day of their lives before they see us."

Sutter shared the following statement with Becker's: "We greatly value the quality care and support our team members provide our patients, and in turn, we offer competitive pay and benefits, as well as opportunities to grow and develop careers. We are disappointed that the union is choosing to strike, especially as we continue to bargain in good faith and have reached agreements on multiple topics. As a show of our commitment to reach an agreement, we have offered to work with a neutral federal mediator, but unfortunately, that was rejected by union representatives. We remain focused on reaching a shared resolution and continuing to provide safe, compassionate patient care for our communities."


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