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Hospital unions call strike for June 23

The California Nurses Association and Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union have called for an “unfair labor practice strike” against Palomar Health. Monday the unions gave Palomar Health CEO Diane Hansen a 10-day Unfair Labor Practice Strike notice of intent to strike on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Last week, on Tuesday and Wednesday union members voted 96% to authorize the union leadership to call a strike against Palomar Health if “Palomar Health continued to bargain in bad faith,” according to a statement from the unions.

The statement continued, “On Friday, June 10, CNA and CHEU met with Palomar Health in mediation. Hopeful that we would see movement after our 96% strike authorization vote, the union bargaining teams only encountered more of Palomar health shenanigans. While we remain committed to move forward through mediation, we will no longer wait around to win a strong contract that prioritizes our community, puts patients first, and uplifts our professions.”

The statement continued, “Registered nurses and caregivers have been at the table negotiating a successor contract for 14 months, raising serious unsafe patient care and nursing practice concerns that negatively impact patients in the community. Palomar Health has refused to bargain in good faith from the start of negotiations, and engaged in flagrant violations of labor law, leading the union to file ULP charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). 

“For over a year, we have been at the bargaining table and Palomar Health has refused to bargain in good faith. They declared an unlawful impasse and imposed terms and conditions without agreement from the union,” said home health RN, Glynn Cascolan. “They ignored our demands to make improvements for safe patient care. We can’t provide the best care without a strong union contract that protects us and our patients, and attracts and retains excellent nurses and caregivers. After all that we have sacrificed during the height of the pandemic, we are disappointed by Palomar’s treatment of nurses and caregivers.”

Response from Palomar Health

On Tuesday the Palomar Health released the following response: “As a hospital district who truly respects our employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activity, Palomar Health hopes that our nurses and caregivers decide to not turn away from our patients in need. After more than eleven months of negotiating with the Unions, Palomar Health’s last, best, and final economic offer in the hundreds of millions of dollars was rejected. To this day, Palomar Health remains ready and willing to have further discussions with the Unions in an effort to find an agreement that is sustainable and provides competitive wages for our nurses and caregivers.”

The statement from the hospital district continued:  “In response to the Union’s decision to strike on June 23, it is important for the general public to understand how the decision to go on a strike is made. To go on a strike, a voting period must be held; however, only Union members are allowed to participate in the vote itself. Meaning, if a nurse or caregiver does not pay into the Union, this nurse or caregiver is ineligible to vote. For this reason, the decision to strike came as a shock to many, as the responses we have received from Palomar Health nurses and caregivers have been overwhelmingly positive. Consistent with our culture and our organization’s values, we encourage our staff to bring forward any concerns without fear of retribution.”

Diane Hansen, President and CEO of Palomar Health commented, “Our world-class staff are excited about what is going on at Palomar Health and remain dedicated to their patients. We want our employees to know how much we value and support them regardless of actions that the Union is taking that do not accurately reflect the opinions of all. We are going to remain focused on our primary mission, which is to provide San Diego County and the surrounding communities access to extraordinary healthcare and services.”

For more information on Palomar Health, visit PalomarHealth.org.

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