Frustrated by negotiations with the hospital administration, a union representing about 700 patient care workers at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital organized a one-day strike Monday to encourage Santa Clarita’s only hospital to “bargain in good faith,” according to a member of the union’s negotiating team.
“They say that they are bargaining in good faith, but they’re refused a few times to come and sit across from us,” said surgical tech Stacy Suarez. “They refuse to come into our conference area to talk about any further proposals. We don’t think that’s bargaining in good faith.”
Hospital administrators denied this characterization of the negotiations in a statement issued Monday.
“We want to be clear: We did not walk away from the bargaining table. The union did,” according to a statement shared Monday via email by hospital spokesman Patrick Moody. “At this time, the union has not requested any additional bargaining dates. We remain fully committed to bargaining in good faith until we reach a new agreement.”
Suarez said the negotiations have been going on since November, and the current contract for the patient care tech union, which includes patient care attendants, or PCAs (formerly known as TNAs), techs and other support staff, expired Jan. 31. Their current contract was negotiated three years ago, she said.
Members of UE Local 1004 voted to organize the demonstration on Feb. 16.
About 100 employees joined the one-day demonstration, which included chants like “No contract, no work” and “Unfair pay is the Henry Mayo way” that could be heard from the hospital’s main entrance on McBean Parkway.
Irma Ibarra has worked as an ultrasound tech at the hospital for 19 years without taking a day off, she said in a phone interview Monday from the picket line. However, she said she joined the protest because she didn’t feel like the hospital was treating its workers fairly.
“I need to support my co-workers and we really need to be heard by the hospital and our management,” said Ibarra, who added that since the pandemic, she regularly works about 30 hours of overtime each pay period.
Hospital administration also disputed claims from the union that employees were not allowed to wear pins, stickers or badges in support of the union, as well as claims that workers are being denied the ability to discuss the negotiations or union activity during their breaks.
“We categorically deny violating the rights of any union members,” according to a statement from Moody issued in response to the claims. “All Henry Mayo employees are required to adhere to a certain dress code. The code applies to all employees, not just union members. The code places limits on items that can be worn in patient care areas.
“We do not monitor what employees discuss on their breaks.”
Suarez added Monday she believed the hospital and the union were close to terms “that we could agree upon.
“We just want to get back to patient care and the sooner (the hospital) can sit down and start negotiating with us again, that’s when we can get back to focusing on patient care,” she said.
Henry Mayo also reaffirmed its commitment to patient care in a statement Monday:
“Regardless of any labor issues, we continue to care for our patients,” according to the statement from Moody. “We are grateful to all who work at Henry Mayo and help ensure every one of our patients receives safe, high-quality care. We are especially grateful to the many UE-covered employees who chose to work their regular shifts today.”