Hospital workers protest proposed cuts


About 35 members of the Service Employers International Union-United Healthcare Workers gathered on Grant Road out in front of El Camino Hospital on June 29 to protest what one representative called "unwarranted" cuts to their pay structure and health benefits.

Carrying picket signs plastered with messages such as, "Shame on El Camino," the protestors chanted slogans: "Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Bad faith bargaining has to go!"

The SEIU-UHW represents service workers, dieticians, medical technicians, social workers and various other non-nurse, non-physician and non-administrative employees of the hospital.

According to Todd Schmitz, an SEIU-UHW representative, the workers at the protest are upset that the hospital is seeking to move from a free employee healthcare plan to one in which employees contribute at least 10 percent to insurance premiums.

Workers are also upset that the hospital is seeking to reduce differential pay -- which guarantees employees better wages for working irregular shifts -- by 5 percent.

"They are clearly a hospital that is in good financial shape and they are calling for cuts that are unwarranted," Schmitz said.

Kim Reyes, a licensed vocational nurse at El Camino and member of the SEIU-UHW, said that she would have trouble supporting her 18-year-old daughter, who just began college, if the cuts go through.

"It's really important for me that I retain my coverage for her," Reyes said.

Reyes said she believes El Camino will become a less competitive hospital if the proposed cuts are implemented.

Hospital spokeswoman Chris Ernst saw things in a different light, however. She said that the proposed cuts are only aimed at putting all hospital employees on an equal plane when it comes to benefits and differential pay.

All other employees at El Camino Hospital must contribute 10 percent to insurance premiums for the lowest tier benefits package, Ernst said.

"Our goal is achieve parity at all levels within our organization," she said. "We believe our plan to be competitive and a very rich benefit package even with the employee contribution."


Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2011 at 8:34 pm

They should be counting their blessings that they even HAVE a job.

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Posted by ECH Nurse
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

El Camino Hospital has not only been working to get rid of "non-nurse" personnel, but has been firing experienced nurses for minor infractions. Both Mountain View & ECHLG are trimming their workforces in an underhanded manner that hold up per HR laws, but unethical. Nurses at ECHLG have watched experienced, reliable, & excellent nurses get fired by inexperienced managers that are given free reign over their domain.

Like this comment
Posted by LOL
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

Id love to see how many companies in the Valley offer zero cost insurance benfits to employees, stop crying and welcome to the real world.

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm

The health insurance plans that are offered to the hospital employees aren't all free and the only way to get good insurance is to pay more than the average employee can afford. They don't get as good a deal as many other employers at other companies offer yet they are a health care institution.

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Posted by Joanne
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Union Busting has been the goal of this hospital administration for a while. that should be obvious as it started with the drastic cuts made to the RN contract. Profits made on the back of taxpayers are being investigated for a real reason! This NOT FOR PROFIT institution is not a business selling widgets for a profit. They deal with patient lives and having well qualified and funded staff has an great impact upon the patients that they serve. Good bonuses are a huge part of retention of good staff. There is no reason "to get over it' unless one really doesn't care about having exemplary staff careing for you or your loved one. this is not a bank!

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Posted by LOL
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

No one is denying that we need quality care. The point is the complaints by the union over the benefits are a joke. Many of the benefits are simply out dated and out of line and now they are crying when they are being trimmed. Having to pay for premium health insurance policies (PPOs) shouldn’t be a reason to picket. The profits the hospital makes are reinvested into new programs that the tax payers benefit from. Pay should be based on merit not simply because you can hide behind the Union bullies!

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Posted by vfree
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

SEIU needs to be shutdown, they are most responsible for high taxes, and everything that's wrong with California.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Rather than vague 'I'll have a hard time' statements regarding the pay and benefit structure in question, let's have some real reporting. What is the pay range of the affected workers? What exactly are the associated benefits? What are the qualifications required in these jobs?
Seems like a pattern, crying about low pay, etc. but keeping mum about what that 'low' pay really is. For years, we've all heard how underpaid teachers are. Turns out the actual numbers tell a different story. Let's see the numbers, please.

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Posted by Worried by Debt
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I strongly suspect that ECH benefits, even with this proposed change, are still much better than those of average employees in the area. ECH need to be realistic about the economy we have--and unfortunately probably will continue to have for several years to come.

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Posted by PH
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I pay less and get much better coverage than the ECH employees and I make a pretty decent income. With that said, they aren't given good benefits compared to many others and they are the people who make a difference in our lives. The management is part of a broken health care system our nation allows to exist that uses itself to make excuses for its waste and failure to provide. We need competent, well paid professionals and the people that save us in emergencies deserve more respect. The next time you have to seek medical treatment tell the nurse or others they are over paid and compensated as they are saving your life. Chances are they will give you the best they can even though you constantly berate them in print. Their union is not perfect, but it is better than nothing, however it doesn't seem to give its members the every day support they need. Its focus needs to be on the actual day to day that has worse effects on the employees as some of the practices of the management seem to be more harmful than the lack of good benefits.

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Posted by Thom
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 1, 2011 at 5:59 pm

When they lose their job I will be in line to take it. People need to wake up and see the economy is not fixed or on the rebound. It is broken and jobs are harder to find then I remember. I volunteered for a pay cut and still got laid off.

Like this comment
Posted by lupinus
a resident of another community
on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm

This is the era of errosion of benefits and working conditions of every type, for all employees of most hospitals. Hospitals, both for and not for profit each struggle to pay the bills while medicare, and medical fail to pay the full cost of treatment. Thousands are with no healthcare and still must be treated. And of course, lest we forget the annual salary/bonuses and benefits packages of management, CEO's and investors, which in these times of graft, and thievery must and will be paid even if we do not have safe staffing ratios for RN's. They will be paid before we have adequate housekeepers to clean our patients room, or put linens in the nurse stations. They will be paid before adequate CNA's, who assist already overwhelmed RN's; who cannot spend enough time with their patients to keep them clean and safe. It is because the CEO's and management of hospitals have created a pyramid scheme in our hospitals, that your grandparents may not be adequately tolieted, and thus forced to hold their urine or mess their bed, waiting for assistance to the commode. The people will loose from this arrangement like they have lost in banking and mortgages and gas prices and the empty coffers of California. But until the people rally and refuse to accept these circumstances, those at the top will continue to be payed, and the embarrassments which have become our local hospitals will continue to disintegrate.

Like this comment
Posted by Retiree
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 2, 2011 at 6:39 am

Get with El Camino Hospital. Hire an illegal immigrant work force. It's the trend in this town. The rest of you, quit your gripping.

Like this comment
Posted by JPlatt
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Read "Moving Millions" by Jeffrey Kaye, a fine book that includes lots about nurses. Buy it at Amazon, or borrow the library's copy, or (gasp) buy it at a local bookstore.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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