AT SUTTER CALIFORNIA PACIFIC MEDICAL CENTER,S.F.
and CHW hospitals have among their goals the intent to be "An
employer of choice in our community." They each have labor
contracts which meet the industry standard. Their contracts are
settled in a timely manner. Their employees don't go on open-ended
Sutter, the third big healthcare player in Northern California
is a rogue elephant in the healthcare system-- their contracts aren't
settled in a timely manner, they don't meet the industry standard,
and their employees must go on strike to bring Sutter to the bargaining
After months of bargaining a contract with Sutter, SEIU UHW sought
the services of a Federal Mediator to reach an agreement with Sutter's
thirteen Bay Area hospitals. Through the mediator, an agreement
was reached with one of the hospitals, Sutter California Pacific
Medical Center (CPMC), on the terms and proposals that UHW hoped
would result in a settlement at CPMC and with Sutter Health and
its affiliates. The Mediator issued his recommendation with the
understanding that both parties had agreed to the terms and would
The UHW bargaining team agreed to the Mediator's recommendation,
but after a series of delays, Sutter and its affiliates rejected
it, and CPMC rejected what it had agreed to. As a result of CPMC's
failure to be accountable for the agreement it made, (an unfair
labor practice), the UHW bargaining team voted to hold a strike
at CMPC only.
What follows are photos from the strike taken on September 27th
at CPMC California campus. Though the strikers are supported and
have been visited by many luminaries from the Labor, political,
and religious communities, on the day and time we visited, the picket
line consisted of the heroic rank-and-file.
Hugh Lucas, Rehab Aide at Sutter California Pacific Medical Center
(CPMC), standing next to Albert M from Housekeeping at a side entrance
"The right to organize without employer interference is one
of the issues in this dispute. Sutter was found guilty of violating
the present contract last year by an Arbitrator, so we are trying
to remove the present language and have the Employer be neutral
in a union election, conducted by the NLRB with a secret ballot.
It's an agreement that would be parallel to what Kaiser and CHW
What are the other sticking points: "We wanted a master contract
with the other Sutter hospitals, but you make concessions to reach
an agreement and that's what we did. The mediator was aware of UHW
settlements with other hospitals, CHW, Kaiser, and Daughters of
Charity. And, there's a small independent hospital, Chinese hospital,
that is far, far less profitable than this hospital, and they agreed
to industry standards. This hospital (CPMC) is immensely profitable
and they won't do it."
And that's what this is basically about, industry standards? "Yes."
What has been Sutter's response: "Sutter's response has been
misinformation, to put it politely. They have distorted 3rd party
binding arbitration disputes and mischaracterized what the Mediator's
proposal was. The Union has to get UHW's information to people.
To get UHW information out to union employees, strikers make house
visits to fellow employees. "We have had people who were working,
but who came out (with us)."
How much is the strike hurting CPMC? "If it was up to CPMC,
I think this would be settled. Sutter told CPMC they could not agree
to this or a domino effect would occur with the other Sutter hospitals."
What about "replacement:" workers? "People have
been hired to replace us, but because this is an Unfair Labor Practice,
we can't be replaced and have the right to return to our jobs. We're
hearing that the people hired to work during the strike weren't
given prior information that there was a strike situation. The person
that runs the agency that recruits these people for the strike is
less than an honorable person --according to an article in the Bay
Guardian, he's had some legal problems. It's surprising that
the hospital didn't research the background of someone that they're
relying on to supply their workers. You wonder about the validity
of what he has verified about the character of the people who are
Hugh Lucas, Rehab Aide, CPMC.
Sutter California Pacific Medical Center California campus on California
Street, San Francisco. The number of picketers varies from around
20 to more than 200, depending on the day and time.
is part of a day on the picket line. Michael Tsegay usually works
in Nutrition Services, but is on strike, serving his co-workers on
the picket line. We hear that inside the hospital, the cafeteria,
without their regular staff, is serving box lunches at 5 dollars a
been without a contract since last November. We had a one day strike
in December, and were locked out for four days. We went back to bargaining,
but nothing changed. Under our old contract, we were behind the other
hospitals in San Francisco. We need better wages and better benefits
to match the other hospitals."---Tommy Kan, Housekeeping
Maraviglia (28 years in Sterile Processing) and Noli Valmacio, 30
years in Housekeeping in surgery on the picket line.
Who's doing your job while you're on strike? "My co-worker
is doing double shifts. In Outpatient, 50% are still working. And
there are people who are not in the union doing union jobs."
What has Sutter done to keep workers from striking? In July, two
months before the strike, they sent us a letter at home, giving
us 4% raises. They gave 9% raises to people who were most needed,
or who they thought would not go on strike. They gave me 9%, but
I'm 100% Union-- I'm not changing. I don't cross picket lines--
my son's a lawyer, so I know that's my right. That's why I'm here!"
How is the strike affecting patients? We have fewer surgery rooms
going. When patients ask us about the strike, we tell them to "Call
600-6000" and complain."