With 64% voting yes, union members approved a tentative agreement reached the day before with hospital owner Dignity Health, according to a Aug. 1 news release from the union, Council 57 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Union members had asked for more than the 4% wage increase they said they were offered.
The union's news release did not include details of the new contract, but reported that "The newly ratified contract includes big wins that improve working conditions, wages and patient care. It guarantees an increase in certified nursing assistant staffing levels, which will improve both the quality of care delivered and workplace safety. Management can no longer unilaterally increase employee health insurance costs, a first for a Dignity Health hospital and a huge step towards financial stability for the workers."
Dignity Health said they are "pleased to announce that Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 829 (AFSCME) resumed negotiations on July 28 and reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract, covering more than 300 technical and service employees at Sequoia Hospital. Union membership ratified the agreement with a vote on July 29. We are pleased to welcome our AFSCME-represented employees back to work."
Hundreds of workers — including include nurses' assistants, surgical technicians, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, cooks and others — began picketing the hospital and Dignity Health headquarters on July 18.
One week later, Dignity officials threatened to cut off workers' health benefits, saying in an email statement that the hospital system's health plan requires employees to work a full schedule and confirmed those on strike would lose access to the benefit plan.
"Employees who do not meet the benefits plan program requirements are removed from benefits plans at the beginning of each month. In August, this will include employees who stopped work in conjunction with AFSCME's indefinite strike."
Dignity Health officials also said in the email that employees would have their health care restored once they resume work. The union said the move was unnecessary and was designed to break the strike.
In the news release from the union, Jackie Garcia, a surgical technician at Sequoia Hospital, called the new contract a win for current and future patients and staff.
"This is going to be a stronger, safer and better place to seek and provide care."