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Seton professionals win long battle for better wages

When nearly three dozen social workers, dietitians, care managers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists at Seton Medical Center joined NUHW in late 2021, they knew that bargaining wouldn’t be easy.

Seton, which is located just south of San Francisco, has faced multiple bankruptcies and its new owner, AHMC Healthcare, has struggled to adequately maintain and staff the hospital. Wages at Seton have fallen behind nearby Bay Area hospitals.

But bargaining ended up being even longer and more difficult than the workers could have expected, primarily because hospital management had as much difficulty conducting talks as it had running the hospital.

Negotiations dragged on for 14 months, during which AHMC replaced its lead negotiator sending talks back to square one. Several workers left for higher paying jobs elsewhere, but the 24 who remain can take pride in winning a contract that can help Seton improve its care by being able to retain its caregivers.

The three-year agreement includes an 8 percent raise this year and 4 percent raises in 2024 and 2025. It also includes extra pay for working nights and weekends, four additional vacation days, and up to $2,000 in tuition reimbursement for continuing education. Additionally, the contract has a pathway for per diem workers to attain part-time or full-time status and guarantees that caregivers will receive pay if they are called off a shift after arriving for work.

Many of the new benefits were already enjoyed by the more than 400 NUHW members at Seton, who like their professional colleagues had to authorize a strike before finally winning a good contract.

“Bargaining was long and difficult but we felt supported, encouraged & educated by our team,” said Steven Sklar, a physical therapist at Seton for 27 years.

“I think that this contract gives us the opportunity to receive the respect and value we’ve deserved for years,” added Physical Therapist Kathy Fernando.

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