Plans for a strike at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center hospitals in Berkeley and Oakland were canceled Monday morning.
The walkout, called by SEIU-United Healthcare-West, was part of an action threatened against 13 Sutter Health medical facilities in the Bay Area.
The union’s Sutter Health bargaining union voted Sunday to call off the planned strike against 10 of the Sutter hospitals and to strike only the three San Francisco Sutter facilities of the California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), said union representative Thea Lavin.
Federal mediator David Weinberg had proposed a settlement at CPMC on Aug. 28 which he also distributed to the other 10 hospitals facing strikes. CPMC turned it down, leading to the union’s strike decision.
When the union announced its willingness to accept the proposal, Democratic lawmakers joined the call for a quick settlement.
Citing Weinberg’s report, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter Thursday to Sutter Health CEO Patrick E. Fray expressing “my strong hope that Sutter and its affiliates accept this compromise settlement proposal.”
She was joined by California’s other senator, Dianne Feinstein, and by state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
The war of words between the union and Alta Bates Summit had heated up over the past week.
After the union released Weinberg’s proposal for CMPC and told of its submission to the other hospitals, Alta Bates Summit released a scathing Sept. 6 “Local 250 Update” declaring that they had “received no proposal from the federal mediator.”
Three days later, in a memorandum to trustees, staff and volunteers, Alta Bates Summit CEO Warren Kirk acknowledged receiving the document, then dismissed a large part of Weinberg’s recommendations as “simply SEIU’s proposals by another name.”
That same day, CMPC spokesperson Christine McMurry called the document a “discussion document” for the center, rather than a formal recommendation.
In addition to strike woes, Sutter learned last week that it has become the target of an legislative inquiry into its tax-exempt status led by Johan Klehs, chair of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.
Two U.S. House committees and one Senate committee have also been looking into Sutter.
In an unsigned statement released Monday evening, Alta Bates Summit greeted the decision not to strike their hospitals as a union move made because of “overwhelming” opposition of union members to the planned walkout.›