Locked-out Salinas hospital employees return to work

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

More than 100 hospital workers have returned to work following a strike that prompted the Salinas Valley Me­morial Healthcare System (SVMHS) to lock them out for two days.

On June 21, approximately 800 National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) union members staged a 24-hour strike. The union said the hospital had not bargained in good faith, and that hospital executives had been advocating layoffs, elimination of a defined-benefit pension plan and cuts in health benefits.

SVMHS responded to the workers’ 10-day notice of a strike by hiring temporary replacement workers. According to NUHW, the hospital then told the striking workers they would not be able to return to work until June 25.

As a result, California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a complaint, alleging the hospital engaged in unfair practices in violation of California labor law.

According to the PERB’s complaint, SVMHS sent staff a memorandum one week before the planned strike, stating the hospital had contracted with a staffing agency to hire replace­ment workers. The staffing agency insisted those temp workers had to be hired for a minimum of three days of work. The memo stated the hospital hired the temporary employees to “maintain safe patient care and keep our hospital run­­ning.”

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