Union healthcare workers in California's Santa Clara County walk out

Unionized Santa Clara County workers in California have called for a strike beginning Oct. 2, according to The Mercury News.

The workers — which include hospital janitors, clerical staff and other employees — are represented by the Service Employees International Union local 521. Healthcare professionals work at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif., which Santa Clara County purchased from El Segundo, Calif.-based Verity Health March 1.

Union members have complained about the increased cost of living in the region, staffing issues and challenges in filling mental health and other positions, The Mercury News reported, adding that SEIU has also alleged unfair labor practices.

It is unclear how long union members will strike. However, Riko Mendez, chief elected officer of SEIU Local 521, told the newspaper workers are prepared to stay off the job  until a fair contract is reached with the county. The union's last contract expired about four months ago.

County CEO Jeff Smith indicated that a key sticking point is salary increases.

He told The Mercury News: "The total package [the union is seeking] is worth more than half a billion dollars just for SEIU members, and that's a lot of money in the midst of the beginning of the recession. We've made it clear that we really can't afford that, and rather than going through the typical fact-finding and impasse process at the table, which would bring in an outside party to look at the finances, the union has decided to take to the streets."

Read the full newspaper report here.

 

More articles on human resources:
Nurses fired, disciplined by University of Cincinnati Medical Center backed by national union chief
Kaiser Permanente, unions reach agreement
1,200 NYU Winthrop Hospital workers vote to unionize

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