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    Prime Healthcare workers to strike the week of Monday, Oct. 9
    • October 7, 2023

    An estimated 1,800 workers across four local Prime Healthcare facilities plan to wage a five-day strike Monday, Oct. 9, claiming management refuses to address unsafe working and patient-care conditions caused by a short-staffing crisis.

    The unfair labor practices strike will affect operations at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center and Encino Hospital Medical Center if the two sides fail to reach a labor agreement.

    Also see: Day 3: Kaiser unions threaten another strike if demands aren’t met

    The licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, ER techs and others are represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. Their contracts expired in June and August and no additional bargaining sessions have been scheduled.

    At St. Francis, 600 registered represented by the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals will join in for their own week-long strike. Their contract expired Aug. 14, but labor negotiations are scheduled for Oct. 12 and 17.

    Bernie Espinoza, an ultrasound tech at the Garden Grove facility, said he and his coworkers are exhausted and overworked.

    “Staffing has been so critically low that many caregivers have left,” Espinoza said. “The remaining workers are stretched thin and rushed. We’re forced to take on more patients with less staff, which leaves much less time for quality one-on-one patient care.”

    In a statement issued Friday, Prime spokeswoman Elizabeth Nikels said the company continues to bargain in good faith with the unions to reach an agreement that’s in the best interests of hospitals, employees and patients.

    “Proposals have been delivered to the unions that would increase wages and provide comprehensive benefit programs, including healthcare, that is among the best in the nation at little to no cost to employees,” she said.

    Nikels added that every health system across the nation is facing staffing challenges due to the national nursing and healthcare worker shortage.

    “Despite this, enormous efforts have been made to hire, recruit and retain our valued staff and create a workplace that feels like community,” she said.

    Ontario-based Prime Healthcare bought St. Francis through bankruptcy in 2020, and nurses say management terminated 20% of the experienced nurses, cut the pay of those who remained by 12% and instituted a three-year wage freeze during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Prime Healthcare operates healthcare facilities in 14 states nationwide.

    ​ Orange County Register