Sunday, March 10, 2013

NUHW's Contract Settlement at CPMC Creates Buzz in California

Tasty hears that an NUHW contract settlement is creating quite a buzz among healthcare workers in California. Last week, NUHW’s members settled a contract with Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), which is the largest hospital in San Francisco and the second largest hospital in all of California.

So what’s got people talking? 

It’s the dramatic difference between NUHW and SEIU-UHW at the bargaining table.

After SEIU’s 2009 trusteeship, SEIU’s D.C. officials negotiated big cuts for CPMC’s workers and even penned a special “side letter” that sold out workers’ longtime community allies in their fight to preserve medical services for low-income residents.

That helps explain why CPMC’s workers later voted to get out of SEIU-UHW and joined NUHW.

Then, in 2012, SEIU’s Dave Regan negotiated huge cuts for thousands of workers at ten of Sutter’s other hospitals across Northern California. Regan’s concessions included a deal that forces workers to pay hundreds of dollars each month for a health insurance plan that’s always been free. 

And at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Regan allowed Sutter to subcontract the hospital’s entire business office (almost 100 workers’ jobs), even though workers’ contract has language to block the subcontracting.  

Regan’s sell-out deal with Sutter created some serious headwind for NUHW during its negotiations with CPMC. But check this out. Last week, NUHW reached a contract settlement with improvements and not a single cut!

NUHW was able to reverse the cuts that SEIU accepted during its prior negotiations with CPMC, including cuts to workers’ seniority rights, layoff protections, reclassification language, reporting pay and shift differentials.

Plus, NUHW won new pay increases. After workers voted to leave SEIU, CPMC continued giving them the scheduled wage increases specified in their old contract -- which is a requirement of federal law. Meanwhile, workers were negotiating a new contract with NUHW. Then, last week, NUHW negotiated a retroactive pay increase that goes back to 2012 and gives workers a 5% wage boost in 2012.  

It’s a remarkable story. And it speaks volumes about the dramatic differences between NUHW and SEIU-UHW.

And get this. SEIU-UHW has basically admitted that NUHW is more successful at fighting and winning for its membership.

Last year, SEIU-UHW’s officials cowardly inserted “me too” provisions in its Sutter contracts so that SEIU-UHW’s members would enjoy the superior health benefits that NUHW just negotiated. SEIU knew that NUHW would bargain a better contract. And thanks to NUHW, SEIU-UHW’s members at St. Luke’s Hospital won’t have to suffer the health insurance cuts that SEIU’s negotiators accepted.

Seems like SEIU-UHW ought to throw in the towel, right?