- SFGate – Hospital Workers Who Responded To Gilroy Shooting Say Their Jobs Are At Jeopardy After Hospital Acquisition
- KCBS Radio – New Santa Clara County Hospital Workers Claiming Discrimination
- World Journal
UPDATE: On August 22, over 50 workers from O’Connor and St. Louise hospitals met face-to-face with Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith, who declared all 90 recent termination notices NULL AND VOID. This is the power we have together in our union. When we fight, we win!
On Thursday, August 8, SEIU 521 members who work at O’Connor Hospital held a press conference decrying Santa Clara County for betraying the dedicated workers who have made sacrifices to keep this hospital open and serving our community.
When the County purchased O’Connor, St. Louise, and DePaul, County Executive Jeff Smith pledged that services offered at the new facilities would not be impacted. Rather than make good on its promise to maintain the level of service at these facilities, expand access to healthcare in underserved areas, and do right by the staff who have dedicated their lives to these facilities, the County has chosen to treat its newest employees with contempt and disregard.
“On March 1st, Santa Clara County officially purchased O’Connor and St. Louise Hospital, along with DePaul Urgent Care, for the hefty price of $235 million. In the five months since, this disastrous process has been nothing short of a nightmare for the dedicated, skilled, and hardworking staff who have served this community and the patients of these facilities,” said Carlton Allen, a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Valley Medical Center and member of our union’s Santa Clara County bargaining team.
“Workers can no longer be silent. We cannot simply trust the County to do the right thing. This County should be ashamed of the way they have treated the staff of O’Connor, St. Louise, and DePaul.”
As workers at this hospital, we are being forced to reapply and test for jobs we’ve held for years; this practice is demeaning, discriminatory, and wrong. We have been told that we could begin receiving layoff notices despite years of service to our community in these facilities if we do not pass the test and score in the top 15 for our positions. Losing our dedicated co-workers compromises patient care and the need to hire, train, or move staff from VMC places a strain on our County’s healthcare system.
“How is it that an arbitrary number can determine whether we’re suited for jobs that we’ve held for over 10, 20, or sometimes 30 years of experience? How can you tell hard-working employees who have dedicated their lives to our mission that their families and loved ones would be at risk over a made-up test score? How is it fair to our colleagues whose primary language is something other than English that their livelihoods hinge on a test that puts them at an immediate disadvantage?” asked Diana Azevedo, a Janitor who has worked between both O’Connor and St. Louise Hospital for over ten years.
“But despite this, we are here every day dealing with the uncertainty that is now our lives. We continue to show up every day because we love our community and we love serving our patients.”
The expansion of the County’s healthcare system was also intended to expand services to cities like Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and other South County communities. Hospital workers, many who have been at the facilities for years and who took pay cuts to stay, were assured that their jobs would be safe. The County’s assurances have been meaningless.
“I’ve witnessed the loyalty and dedication of O’Connor workers to their community and know that their work makes Santa Clara County a better place to live and raise our families. The County Board of Supervisors has the power to stop the spread of fear and anxiety in these facilities by coming to the table now to figure out together a solution that meets the needs of the County and these incredible public health workers behind me,” said Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU 521.
“We’ve reached out to the County to make this happen, but they have not agreed to come to the table. Right now, thousands of SEIU 521 union members are casting their strike authorization votes all across Santa Clara County. We ask, ‘Why push it to this level? Why put our patients and our families in jeopardy?’ Come to the table—let’s find a solution together.”
SEIU 521 members working for Santa Clara County, including those at the newly-acquired hospitals, are currently voting to give our bargaining team the authority to call for a strike that would involve over 12,000 workers across Santa Clara County.