Healthcare workers at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, Los Alamitos Medical Center, and Lakewood Medical Center have overwhelmingly agreed to new contracts that boost pay and improve benefits.
Last month, the workers authorized a strike and were represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), though no strike date was set, nor did one take place. Several dozen workers protested in front of Tenet’s headquarters in Farmers Branch earlier this summer, delivering a 16-foot long petition to Tenet CEO Ron Rittenmeyer and calling for better working conditions.
The settlements involve Tenet and a subcontracted company called Compass Group, which operates in Tenet hospitals in California. More than 600 respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, medical technicians, and other caregivers at Tenet Healthcare’s Fountain Valley Regional Hospital ratified three-year contracts with Tenet, while around 225 housekeepers and dietary workers at Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos Medical Center, Lakewood Medical Center also ratified three-year contracts with environmental and food services subcontractor Compass Group.
“This contract shows what we can achieve as caregivers when we stay united and fight for our patients,” said Ron Rosano, a surgical technician, via statement. “We’re proud of the raises we’ve earned and the provisions we won that will protect the health and safety of patients and ourselves.”
The 610 Fountain Valley employees will have salary increases of 15 percent in the first year, with additional raises moving forward. The contract will also pay extra for working late shifts and includes a new health plan with lower premium costs.
“We are pleased to share with you that we were notified by the National Union of Healthcare Workers that employees represented by the NUHW, including some service, maintenance, and technical employees at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement,” said Jennifer Bayer, communications manager for Tenet in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Last year, Fountain Valley was cited by the California Department of Public Health for safety violations when workers filed a complaint through its union. The citation said that the “Governing Body failed to ensure an effective, active, and hospital-wide infection control program for the prevention, control, and investigation of infections and communicable diseases, including COVID-19. “
The new contract says that the hospital must maintain a three-month supply of PPE and notify workers when they are in contact with a patient suspected of having a highly infectious disease. The hospital must also cover the costs of missed shifts during a quarantine period for up to 14 days.
“During the negotiation process, we were focused on reaching an agreement that was good for employees and our hospital,” Bayer said. “This agreement provides a long-term competitive compensation and benefits package to ensure that we remain well-staffed and have the resources to continue to provide excellent patient care.”
The contracts with Compass at the Tenet hospitals set a minimum hourly salary of $18.20, which is the minimum for the non-subcontracted employees at the facility. Many of those workers will receive 17 to 30 percent raises and 3 percent raises in the second and third years of the contract.
“After a brutal last 18 months, this contract is a huge victory,” said Johnenfer Larry, a housekeeper at Lakewood Medical Center via statement. “We won respect for the work we do and big pay increases that will make a big difference in our lives.”