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Alta Bates and Summit Medical Centers Prepare for Second Strike.

Business & News Editors/Medical Writers

BERKELEY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 24, 2000

Once again, the Health Care Workers, SEIU, Local 250 has issued strike notices. Nine hospitals have received notices, eight are in the Bay Area: Alta Bates Medical Center, Summit Medical Center, Sutter Solano Hospital, Eden Medical Center, Seton Medical Center, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, St. Mary's Medical Center and Alameda Hospital.

The threatened strike is scheduled for Wednesday, August 2. It remains unclear just how long the strike will last.

Irwin C. Hansen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alta Bates and Summit stated, "It is hard to imagine a more irresponsible act than to once again put the community's health care at risk because of union demands for what amounts to a lifetime job guarantee. Alta Bates and Summit hospitals will not put our patients and their families through another emotional and unnecessary event."

"Local 250, which represent environmental service workers, dietary workers and LVNs, is demanding guaranteed jobs for life -- something it won't put in writing for its own employees. Local 250 is willing to create local health care chaos to achieve this."

Hansen went on to state, "Consider the emotional toll on patients and their families as a result of the last reckless act by L. 250:

-- 32 infants had to be transferred from the Newborn Intensive

Care Nursery to as far away as Santa Rosa and Palo Alto.

-- Over 125 very ill patients were transferred to other hospitals

-- to doctors they didn't know -- through the Caldicott

tunnel, along crowded freeways to Pinole and across the Bay

Bridge to San Francisco.

-- Hundreds of patients who were scheduled for serious procedures

such as chemotherapy, hip replacements and open heart

surgeries had to delay those surgeries."

Hansen went on to explain the strike's emotional and physical toll on employees and medical staff:

-- More than 700 employees endured union threats and intimidation

and did cross the picket line to care for patients.

-- Physicians could not admit their patients, who depend upon and

trust their own personal doctors, at Alta Bates or Summit.

They were forced to transfer patients to the care of

physicians at other facilities.

"This may have been just 'one day' in the life of those who called this strike," Hansen continued. "But anyone who is hospitalized never forgets that 'one day' when they welcomed a new baby, sat by the bedside of a very sick loved one, or suffered the loss of a family member. Our patients need our care every day -- 365 days a year, 24 hours a day."

The hospitals faced with the union escalation of strike activities are considering their options and have bargaining and mediation sessions scheduled between now and the union's August 2 strike date.

Where Alta Bates and Summit labor negotiations currently stand:

Alta Bates and Summit have made the following offers to Local 250:

-- 4% increase each year for the first 2 years of the contract.

-- Equal wage scales for the Alta Bates and Summit employees by

January 2001.

-- A ban on mandatory overtime as part of a package to settle

various issues still on the bargaining table.

-- Full health benefit coverage, paid in full by the medical

centers.

-- Maintaining the current generous retirement packages.

-- Increase cap on sick leave accrual to 1000 hours.

-- Special consideration for long-term employees: an annual bonus

payment equivalent to one week's pay to regular employees with

at least 40 years of service on anniversary date.

-- Committees that allow employees represented by Local 250 to

give input on staffing, employee safety, child and elder care,

education and training, scheduling and classifications.

These are offers that meet the needs of our employees. These are offers similar to agreements successfully reached with California Nurses Association, Local 29 (which represent Clinical Lab Scientists), Local 39 (Stationery Engineers), and Local 6 (which represents various technical employees).

Local 250 threatens to strike again over an agenda that includes issues unrelated to the wages, hours and working conditions of Alta Bates and Summit employees and that are not contained in any of the other labor contracts:

-- Local 250 leadership is demanding that we take away the right

of a National Labor Relations Board election that would give

unorganized workers the choice of whether or not to be

represented by Local 250.

-- Local 250 wants to turn final staffing decisions over to an

outside, third person that has no relationship to the medical

center or our employees and who may have little or no

background on hospital staffing issues.

-- Local 250 is demanding what amounts to a lifetime job

guarantee and a prohibition on flexible staffing due to

patient census.

Negotiations with the Federal Mediator are scheduled for July 25, July 31 and August 1.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 24, 2000
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