TARZANA (CBSLA) – Hundreds of union workers at Providence Tarzana Medical Center went on a one-day strike Thursday as they demand higher pay and better staffing amid ongoing contract negotiations.
The approximately 560 employees, who are represented by National Union of Healthcare Workers, include nursing assistants, respiratory therapists and medical technicians. The union does not represent nurses.
The workers were picketing outside the hospital Thursday.
The two sides have been locked in ongoing negotiations for the past nine months, according to a union spokesperson.
The hospital has offered employees a two percent annual raise, which “wouldn’t come close to keeping pace with rising prices and soaring rents,” the union said in a statement. NUHW has also accused the hospital of cancelling shifts, which has led to understaffing.
The hospital said in a news release Wednesday that the strike will not affect patient care, as it has hired workers through a temp agency to replace the striking employees.
However, Providence claims that the agency required the hospital to hire the workers for a minimum of five days, meaning that employees who went on strike Thursday would not be eligible to return to work for another four days after that.
“The hospital must commit to-and pay for-the full five days of agency staffing,” Providence wrote in its release. “For this reason, employees who choose to participate in the strike and are temporarily replaced by these agency workers will return to work once our commitment to the temporary staffing company is met.”
The union has called Providence’s actions a “lock out” and accused it of “not bargaining in good faith.”
“The lockout would leave patients in the hands of temporary workers unfamiliar with the 245-bed San Fernando Valley hospital,” NUHW said in a news release.