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State Board Issues Complaint: VHS Board Should Have Signed Contract With Caregivers
Date:8/27/2008

Workers also charge hospital with unlawful changes in wages and benefits

HEMET, Calif., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) on Monday issued a complaint against the board of directors of Valley Health System (VHS) for backing out of a contract with workers that the board had already voted to agree to.

"I do this job because I want to help people, not for the money," said Lisa Howell, a registered nurse at Menifee Valley Medical Center. "But after years of working for this hospital, the board is saying they won't pay me what they said because they didn't actually sign our contract. I feel like they don't care about the work we do."

In October 2006, workers, united in SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, negotiated a contract with Valley Health System to protect patient care and workplace standards at Hemet Valley Hospital and Menifee Valley Hospital. The publicly-elected VHS Board of Directors voted to approve the contract at an open meeting, and workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract.

The improvements spelled out in the contract were implemented in the hospitals -- but the board never signed it. Now that VHS is in bankruptcy, the management company put in charge of the hospitals has said they won't ever sign the contract, and begun cutting workers' wages and reducing benefits as if no agreement existed.

The PERB complaint says the board violated labor law by not signing the contract after it was voted on by both management and workers. An administrative law judge will next schedule a settlement conference. Workers have also filed charges against the VHS board for cuts in wages and benefits in violation of the contract.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest, fastest-growing hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and ser
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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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