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2,000 Cedars-Sinai workers begin week-long strike

Cedars-Sinai healthcare workers go on strike
Cedars-Sinai healthcare workers go on strike 00:30

Nearly 2,000 Cedars-Sinai Medical Center employees went on strike outside of their workplace Monday morning following what they have described as "unfair labor practices as well as employee and patient safety concerns, short-staffing and low wage."

The employees, members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West started their strike at 5 a.m. Monday, with plans to extend the picketing throughout the week, or at least until an agreement is reached. 

Out of the 14,000 approximate people said to be employed at Cedars-Sinai, the striking employees include certified nursing assistants, surgical technicians, sterile processing technicians, transporters, environmental service workers, plant operation workers and food service technicians. The union represents about 14% of the employees at Cedars-Sinai.

Doctors, registered nurses and nurse technicians are not represented by the union, that has been involved in negotiations with hospital management since late March. 

Workers say they will stay and picket until 7 p.m. each evening. The union expects an extremely large turnout for all five days of the planned strike. 

In a statement made last week, SEIU-UHW said, "Healthcare workers at Cedars-Sinai are asking their employer to stop committing unfair labor practices and to bargain in good faith."

The statement continued to note how a low hospital safety rating had employees "concerned about receiving basic protections to ensure patient and worker safety."

The union believes that the hospital has not bargained in good faith and that the Cedars-Sinai "continues to commit unfair labor practices," as indicated in a statement released by the union on behalf of Luz Oglesby, a clinical partner at the hospital.

Oglesby's statement, asking for "basic workplace protections," continued to note how in the "latest round of bargaining, Cedars-Sinai rejected our proposals on PPE stockpiles, COVID exposure notifications, keeping pregnant and immunocompromised workers away from COVID patients and other safety measures."

Cedars-Sinai's president and CEO, Thomas M. Priselac, said in a statement that he was "deeply disheartened" that SEIU-UHW decided to proceed with the strike. Priselac says Cedars-Sinai has offered a wage increase of an average of 16% over the length of a three year contract to workers.

"While we are disappointed with the current outcome of recent negotiations, we stand ready to continue positive and collaborative talks with the union," Priselac said in his statement. "We understand that a fair agreement can only come through constructive discussions at the bargaining table."

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