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Workers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland ratify new contracts, averting second strike

More than 1,300 NUHW members at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland voted overwhelmingly this month to ratify new three-year contracts, ending a year-long dispute and averting a potential three-day strike.

The contracts include provisions to protect quality pediatric care in the East Bay as well as substantial pay increases and job security protections for the vast majority of non-RN workers at the hospital, who include licensed vocational nurses, medical technicians, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, housekeepers, mental health therapists, clerical staff and nursing assistants.

The agreements were reached during a two-day round-the-clock negotiating session on June 14 and 15 and ratified nearly unanimously by workers during two days of in-person voting.

“This is a good deal that honors our commitment to the families we serve and will help keep caregivers and services in the East Bay,” said Stephanie Lum Ho, an office associate at the hospital’s Walnut Creek outpatient center. “It was a long, hard negotiation, but we knew what we needed to safeguard care in our community, and we accomplished that with these contracts.”

The newly-ratified contracts include:

  • Job security provisions that require advanced notice of any merger or transfer of hospital ownership, as well as employment safeguards for workers in the event of a merger or ownership transfer.
  • A new process for professionals such as social workers and speech therapists to earn more money and advance in their careers so the hospital will be better positioned to keep dedicated caregivers serving East Bay children.
  • 13 percent across-the-board raises for all workers over three years retroactive to when the prior contracts expired in 2022.
  • Additional raises for 31 classifications of workers whose wages had dipped below market rates.
  • The addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

The negotiations resulted in three contracts for three separate bargaining units representing service and technical workers; office and clerical workers; and professional workers.

In April, the workers held the largest one-day strike in the hospital’s history with sympathy strikes by registered nurses and other caregivers represented by the California Nurses Association and the Caregivers and Health Employees Union as well as stationary engineers represented by IUOE Stationary Engineers, Local 39.

Negotiations didn’t progress immediately after the strike, but an agreement was reached in the first bargaining session after workers authorized a three-day strike that would have taken place later this summer.

“These are the best contracts we’ve won, and the secret sauce was our unity throughout the hospital,” said Jackie Schalit, a mental health therapist at the hospital. “We all do different jobs, but we share the same commitment to each other, the kids we care for, and the community we call home.”

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