After one year of working without a contract, after going out on a series of one-to-three-day strikes, after endless hours at the negotiating table, hospital workers and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center management have agreed on a new contact.
Service Employees International Union members voted to approve the contract on Friday. “We are very pleased that the members of SEIU Local 250 have ratified this new contract,” said Alta Bates Summit CEO Irwin Hansen in a press statement. “We will now continue with what the hospitals do best – servicing the health care needs of our community.”
SEIU members called the contract “a big victory.”
“I’m ecstatic, I’m excited,” said Deborah Covington, chief shop steward and a dietary aide at the Oakland campus of the newly-merged Alta Bates Summit Hospital. The three-campus Berkeley-Oakland hospital is part of the Sutter Health Care hospital group.
Over the four-year contract, wages will rise 16 percent, but that wasn’t at the heart of the negotiations.
“We got a voice in staffing,” Covington said. The union had negotiated long and hard in order to set up a labor management committee that would evaluate staffing needs and make recommendations to the hospital, Covington said. When there is disagreement, an independent third party will make the final staffing determination.
The new contract also sets limits on mandatory overtime.
Among those benefiting from the new contract will be licensed vocational nurses, dietary aides and housekeeping staff.
An Alta Bates Summit spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.