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.
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.”