The negotiations began shortly after El Camino announced on Aug. 12 that it would be laying off approximately 140 employees, citing the slumping economy and shrinking patient volumes. The hospital's two labor organizations — the Service Employees International Union and Professional Resource for Nurses — began working with El Camino administration in an effort to keep their members employed, representatives from each union said.
Those efforts have been largely successful, according to Velvet Hazard, an SEIU representative. Hazard said all 119 service workers who received notices that they might be laid off will remain working for the hospital. "I'm happy with where we ended up," she said.
"Considering the fact that I was on the list myself, I was very happy," said Nicole Bryand, a member of the SEIU.
Bryand said that negotiations between her union and El Camino administration went very smoothly. "Management really went out of their way to try to avoid the layoffs as much as possible. Ultimately, instead of laying off, they reorganized."
Bryand explained that while some departments in the hospital were overstaffed, others were understaffed, and many employees simply left their prior position for another.
Patricia Briggs, president of Professional Resources for Nurses, said 16 members of her union voluntarily resigned. The rest of the nurses who were notified that they might lose their jobs will remain as nurses within the hospital. Some have moved to other positions and reduced their weekly hours.
Briggs said she was pleased that the nurses who wished to stay at El Camino were able to do so. "There was a great deal of respect for the nurses in a difficult situation," she said.
Neither union made concessions on pay or benefits.
Other hospital employees not represented by the SEIU or PRN have been or will be let go, however, said hospital spokeswoman Chris Ernst.
Ernst said El Camino is pleased with the number of employees that were able to stay on board at the hospital.