4 1/2-Year Fight Shows Need for Labor Law Reform
CHICO, Calif., Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthcare workers at Enloe Medical Center have reached a tentative agreement with hospital management for a new contract that includes improvements to patient care, full health coverage for workers, and an average wage increase of 33 percent over four years.
If approved, the contract would cap more than a year of bargaining that followed a four-year campaign by Enloe hospital management to first prevent workers from organizing a union, and then to stall and delay the negotiation of a first contract.
"This is a hard-fought victory, but it was worth it because of how much the new contract will help patients and the community of Chico," said Barbara Garcia, a certified nursing assistant at Enloe. "We knew that we wanted to form a union so we could have a voice on the job and improve patient care, and it's exciting to finally have that opportunity."
The tentative agreement includes wage increases ranging from 22 to 52 percent over four years, as well as joint labor-management committees formed to address staffing and patient care issues, with third-party mediation. Enloe workers and their families will be eligible for fully employer-paid health coverage.
Workers at the hospital will vote to ratify the contract on Dec. 9.
Enloe workers first voted to form a union with United Healthcare Workers in April 2004, but the prior hospital administration challenged the election results. After every legal challenge was rejected, Enloe management finally agreed to negotiations in early 2007.
However, negotiations dragged out. Earlier this year, Enloe's healthcare workers considered going on strike to encourage management to quit stalling and move productively toward a contract agreement.
"This successful negotiation is a testament to the perseverance of the Enloe caregivers, but credit should also be given to CEO Debi Yancer, who has committed to a new, constructive relationship with UHW," said John Borsos, administrative vice president of UHW.
The long journey that Enloe workers had to endure is evidence of the need to reform existing U.S. labor law, which punishes employer interference lightly, if at all, and allows the process of union recognition to be dragged out far longer than necessary, preventing workers from exercising their rights.
"No worker in this country should have to experience what the Enloe workers did just because they wanted to form a union," said Sal Rosselli, president of United Healthcare Workers-West. "Now, more than ever, our country needs new and reformed labor laws that will eliminate the barriers working people face when attempting to exercise their right to form a union."
The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest hospital and fastest growing healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.
CONTACT: Mason Stockstill (510) 206-8247
|SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West|
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