More than 700 health care workers at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center reached a tentative agreement for a new contract expected to address understaffing and patient care concerns, labor union officials announced Thursday.
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, the union representing more than 700 non-nursing health care workers at Providence, said the labor agreement must be ratified and approved by its members before it becomes final. The vote is expected to happen on Nov. 20-21, union officials confirmed.
“This agreement will ensure we can provide the quality care our patients deserve. Addressing the issues of understaffing directly impacts our ability to deliver exceptional patient care,” Jacob Fukumoto, a special procedures tech at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, said in a statement. “We fought hard for this new agreement, and now we will finally have the resources to do the job we love and keep our patients safe.”
“Both PSJMC and the union tirelessly sought common ground on significant topics raised at the bargaining table,” according to a statement from Patricia Aidem, director of public relations for Providence Southern California, which oversees the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. “The result is a contract with meaningful wage increases and important contract enhancements.”
The three-year labor agreement offers a 7% wage increase in the first year, a 4% wage increase in the second year and a 4% wage increase in the third year. It also includes a market equity adjustment for some jobs, which could range from an additional 1.4% to 9% wage increase.
Additionally, there are provisions intended to retain current health care workers and attract new ones.
There is also a focus on investing in training programs for “hard-to- fill” diagnostic positions such as radiology, X-ray and computerized tomography — CT scans — to improve care for the local community.
The tentative agreement comes after a five-day strike that occurred Oct. 23-27 to protest what the union described as “bad faith bargaining and other illegal tactics” by Providence negotiators.
The walk out began after what the hospital said was “our best efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue at the bargaining table,” along with the offer of “significant wage increases.”
The union, which gave a 10-day notice ahead of its intended strike, previously said the action was a “last resort” after months of bargaining.
Maria Leal, a spokesperson for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said contract talks broke off after the sides’ bargaining session on Oct. 13. The union’s contract expired on Aug. 5, and the sides began talks in June.
“The union has offered unrealistic counter proposals in response and has chosen to strike instead of continue with good-faith negotiations,” the hospital said in a previous statement.
Both groups were able to come back to the negotiating table following the strike and came to an agreement.
The Providence strike followed a three-day walkout over many of the same issues by some 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in several states, including California, from Oct. 4-6. The sides in that dispute announced a tentative four-year agreement on Oct. 13.
Workers at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood also walked off the job for five days from Oct. 9-13.