More than 250 health care workers in San Andreas have a new, five-year contract with Dignity Health, a union representative in Los Angeles said Monday.
Members of the union who work at Dignity Health facilities total 15,000 in the Golden State, and they completed voting over two weeks on Friday to ratify the new contract, Sean Wherley with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West said in a phone interview.
Mark Twain Medical Center, the only hospital and one of the largest employers in Calaveras County, has 266 workers represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, Wherley said.
The public agency that runs Mark Twain Medical Center and its clinics, Mark Twain Health Care District, has entered into a new 30-year lease with Dignity Health, and the agreement must go to voters on June 5.
The health care district boundaries mirror Calaveras County, which is home to more than 28,400 registered voters.
A representative for Mark Twain Health Care District could not be reached for comment.
Darryl Robinson, a San Francisco-based executive vice president and chief of human resources with Dignity Health, said Monday in prepared remarks, “We are pleased that the SEIU-UHW has ratified a new five year master contract that is good for our employees, communities and the patients we serve.”
Wherley said the need for the contract was time sensitive. The current five-year contract expires April 30.
Wherley and others with SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West say the new contract provides economic security while Dignity Health, a multi-state entity, prepares to merge with Catholic Health Initiatives, one of the nation’s largest health care systems.
A month ago, Wherley said dozens of healthcare workers were planning to protest Feb. 22 at Mark Twain Medical Center over concerns the merger would leave the interests of patients and the community ignored by a Dignity Health merger into a $28 billion corporation. The protest was canceled Feb. 20.
“Patients, workers and the community need to be reassured that this new corporation is going to look out for them in the future,” David Lay, an employee at Mark Twain Medical Center, said in prepared remarks before the Feb. 22 protest was canceled. “It’s all too common for a mega-corporation to squeeze employees and harm patients in the process rather than invest in both of them.”
Dennis Anderson, a SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West member and a lab assistant at Dignity Health-owned Mercy Hospital in Folsom, praised the new contract with Dignity Health. He said it maintains employer-paid family healthcare and provides rising wages.
“That security and peace of mind enables us to focus on caring for our patients,” Anderson said in prepared remarks distributed Monday. “All frontline caregivers should have strong wages and benefits because of the crucial role we play in delivering quality patient care.”
Under the new contract, workers who are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West will maintain fully-paid, employer-provided family healthcare, which was a key point of contention in negotiations, Wherley said.
Workers will also receive 13 percent raises spread over five years, a 1 percent bonus in the second year, and will maintain their defined benefit pension, Wherley said.
Robinson with Dignity Health said the annual wage increases range from 2 percent to 3 percent over five years, and he said there won’t be any changes to cost sharing of dependent health care coverage for the union-represented employees.
“This agreement honors our commitment to our employees while acknowledging the significant challenges Dignity Health and employers everywhere in the U.S. face with the increasing cost of health care,” Robinson said.
In December, Dignity Health announced plans to merge with Catholic Health Initiatives. The merger is subject to approvals that are pending. Wherley said the new corporation would be the nation’s second-largest nonprofit hospital system, with operations in 28 states, including its national headquarters in Chicago.
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West is billed as one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the western United States with more than 93,000 members.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.