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Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Safe Picket On Proposed Benefit Cuts

Staff picketed outside Encino Hospital Medical Center, a subsidiary of Prime Healthcare Services, earlier this month to oppose the hospital chain’s attempt to cut sick time and disability in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The health care system recently backed off on this attempt, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West told the Business Journal in an email, but are still trying to eliminate health care plans for workers who live outside the Prime network. According to a statement by the union on May 5, picketers were also at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood and Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center. All demonstrations were done with social distancing and other health precautions in mind, the union said. Ontario-based Prime had proposed to cut paid time off for workers with less than five years on the job by 40 hours and those with five to 10 years by 16 hours. “Prime is currently negotiating with the union to ensure the long-term security of its staff and hospitals, including a comprehensive paid time off plan,” the hospital system said in a statement. “Despite the significant financial challenges hospitals face due to this pandemic, Prime’s latest economic proposal presented an overall increase to wage scales and an average of up to 15 percent wage increases over the three-year proposed contract. … We have upcoming negotiation dates and continue to work in good faith to reach an agreement that will benefit members and the patients we serve.” Prime has a record of underpaying its staff, according to SEIU. Respiratory therapists, for example, a crucial role in a hospital for COVID patients in need of a ventilator, are paid 26 to 51 percent below market rates for the job, the union said. “The low pay leads to high turnover of critical professionals and undermines care,” SEIU said in its statement. “Many workers at the hospital refer to their facility as Centinela University because workers get trained there and then move on to higher-paying jobs.”

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