Sutter Health Union Sets Strike Deadline By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday September 06, 2005

Leaders of nine unions vowed Friday to walk out in sympathy if members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers-West strike the three Alta Bates hospitals and 10 other facilities of Stutter Health on Sept. 13. 

Planned talks between the union and the hospitals last month reached an impasse before they ever began, though SEIU-UHW President Sal Rosselli said he hopes they will be restarted before the walkout. 

The 10-day notice, announced at a press conference at the San Francisco Marriott, could lead to the walkout of 8,000 union workers at the affected facilities, said Rosselli. 

Carolyn Kemp, spokesperson for the three Summit Alta Bates facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, said management is already making arrangements for replacement workers. 

If the California Nurses Association joins the walkout as announced Friday, that will mean the loss of registered nurses along with licensed vocational nurses and other workers represented by SEIU-UHW. 

“We will do whatever is necessary to make sure we have quality people to keep the doors of the medical center open so we are there for the patients and for the community,” Kemp said. 

Carey Garner, spokesperson for Sacramento-based Sutter Health, said her firm does not engage in negotiations, which are handled entirely by the local affiliates. 

“We have 26 hospitals in Northern California and eight are in separate contract negotiations. Each has offered employees a great wage and benefit package,” Garner said. 

Rosselli said the strike isn’t about salaries and benefits as much as it is about his members “achieving what’s the industry standard across the country, namely giving workers a say in staffing and offering a training and educational fund.” 

Rosselli said he still hopes that talks with the hospitals can be reopened with National Labor Relations Board mediator David Weinberg.