Health care workers prepare strike action at major hospitals, other facilities throughout California

ByAlyson R. Briggs

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Over the next month, nurses and health care workers are set to strike at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Stanford Health Care in the San Francisco Bay Area and 15 separate locations operated by Sutter Health in Northern California. The main demands of these workers are an end to the chronic understaffing, which has plagued the profession since well before the pandemic, and higher wages to keep up with inflation.

Stanford University Medical Center (Wikimedia/Travis Wise)

Measured by total inpatient discharges, Cedars-Sinai and Stanford Health Care are the two largest hospitals in the state. Both are also significant research centers and teaching hospitals, the latter being connected to prestigious Stanford University. While the 15 Sutter Health facilities are individually smaller, they collectively constitute a similar portion of the health care system as the first two.

Of the 14,000 workers employed at Cedars-Sinai, more than 2,000 nurses, CNAs, surgical technicians, service and transport staff and other health care workers under the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) are set to walk out at some point in May. Workers voted by 93 percent in favor of the strike. The SEIU-UHW will announce a date for the strike at an informational picket at the hospital on April 20.

Cedars-Sinai reported total profits in 2021 of more than $1 billion, which is more than a 200 percent increase from 2020. The “nonprofit” hospital used the windfall to give bonuses totaling over $40 million to its leading executives and, as a “thank you,” a $2 per hour wage increase to its employees—an increase that falls woefully short of keeping up with inflation.

For its part, Stanford employs approximately 5,000 registered nurses. Of those, 4,500 nursing staff voted by the same 93 percent margin to strike on April 25. The fight at Stanford comes amid a contract fight at Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (Stanford’s children’s hospital).

The contracts between the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievements (CRONA) union and Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s expired on March 31 and negotiations have been ongoing for more than three months. The last walkout at Stanford Health Care was in 2000, when nurses went on strike for 50 days.


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