LOS ANGELES - Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) at Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California (USC) reached a tentative agreement with hospital management this morning for a collective bargaining agreement with no takeaways and with raises of between 9.75 and 33 percent over the term of the contract.
The tentative agreement includes fully employer-paid health insurance, a ban on subcontracting and improvements to retirement benefits, paid time off and other provisions. Workers will vote to ratify the agreement next week.
In May 2010, about 700 workers at what was at the time called USC University Hospital voted to bolt the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and join NUHW.
Since becoming NUHW members, USC workers have engaged in a concerted fight to win a contract that rewarded workers fairly and safeguarded patient care standards. Over the last fourteen months, USC employees carried out an informational picket and a 24 hour strike, and voted to authorize a second 24 hour strike if progress was not made toward a fair contract.
Hospital management demanded numerous concessions, including removing a ban on subcontracting and introducing a merit pay system to replace seniority-based wage scales. None of those concessions are included in the tentative agreement.
The agreement that USC workers reached this morning is in stark contrast to recent contracts settled by the union they voted to leave. Over the last three years, SEIU has agreed to over $1.6 billion in contract concessions in California alone.
“This agreement is proof positive that when workers stay united and stand up for ourselves, we can win a fair contract with raises and no takeaways,” said Julio Estrada, a Respiratory Therapist at USC. “We don’t have to give up our benefits just because the employer says so. NUHW is a fighting union, and that’s why we won.”