By Bay City News.
A workers' strike at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City ended after 11 days when union members approved a new four-year contract with management last Friday.
With 64 percent voting in favor, union members approved a tentative agreement reached the day before with hospital owner Dignity Health, according to a news release from the union: Council 57 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The union members had asked for more than the 4 percent wage increase they said they had been offered.
The union's press release did not include details of the new contract, but reported that "The newly ratified contract includes major accomplishments that improve working conditions, wages and patient care."
In turn, he said, it "ensures increased staffing levels of certified nursing assistants, which will improve both the quality of care provided and workplace safety. Management can no longer unilaterally increase employee health insurance costs, a first for a Dignity Health hospital and a big step toward financial stability for workers."
Dignity Health officials were not immediately available for comment Monday evening.
Hundreds of workers, including nursing assistants, surgical technicians, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, cooks and others, began picketing the hospital and Dignity Health headquarters on July 18.
A week later, Dignity officials threatened to cut workers' health benefits and said in an e-mailed statement that the hospital system's health plan requires employees to work a full schedule and confirmed that those on strike would lose access to the benefits plan:
"Employees who do not meet the benefit plan program requirements are removed from the benefit plans at the beginning of each month. In August, this will include employees who stopped working in conjunction with AFSCME's indefinite strike."
Dignity Health officials also said in the email that employees would get their health care back once they resume work. The union said the move was unnecessary and designed to break the strike.
In the union's Monday press release, Jackie Garcia, a surgical technician at Sequoia Hospital, called the new contract a victory for current and future patients and staff.
"This is going to be a better, stronger, safer place to seek and provide care."
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