- Hundreds of healthcare workers at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles are starting a five-day strike Monday amid negotiations for new contracts with the system, according to Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West, which represents the workers.
- Certified nursing assistants, technicians, environmental service and food service workers are waging the work stoppage for measures in new contracts that address what they say is inadequate staffing, patient and worker safety concerns and low wages amid high inflation.
- The hospital will remain open and fully operational during the strike. Over the last 35 years it has reached 11 contract deals with SEIU-UHW without having a strike, according to a hospital statement.
The Cedars-Sinai strike comes after nearly 5,000 nurses at two Stanford hospitals in Northern California went on an open-ended strike April 25, though they reached a deal with hospital management and returned to work one week later.
At Cedars-Sinai, the union's campaign hinges on concerns about patient and worker safety as well as care quality.
As evidence for the claim that care quality has gone down, the union pointed to a D hospital safety grade from The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit formed by employers and payers to screen hospital performance. That was a downgrade from the C it received in Spring 2021.
The hospital received below average performance scores for measures related to infection control, problems with surgery, safety problems and practices to prevent medical errors.
Cedars-Sinai also received seven citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that led the union to picket in April as negotiations for new contracts heated up.
The two sides began bargaining for new contracts on March 21. On April 9, 2,000 Cedars-Sinai workers represented by the union voted to authorize a strike, with 93% voting in favor, according to SEIU-UHW.
The hospital is refuting claims of care quality decreasing, noting it consistently receives five stars from the CMS' hospital quality star ratings program. On Medicare's Hospital Compare Website, Cedars-Sinai has a five star overall rating, and three star patient survey rating.
"During lengthy bargaining sessions, it became clear to us that union leaders never intended to reach an agreement with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on a new contract without a strike," Cedars-Sinai CEO Thomas Priselac said in a statement.
The union broke off negotiations over the weekend without responding to the hospital's latest offer and proceeded with the strike, according to the statement. The union did not respond to request for comment by the time of publication.
SEIU-UHW represents about 14% of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center employees, though nurses, physicians and researchers are not a part of the union, the statement said.