Community Voices

Healthcare Workers to Picket West Anaheim Medical Center Demanding End to Poverty Wages

A statement from Cheyenne Chitry, West Anaheim Medical Center spokesperson (July 13, 2023):
West Anaheim Medical Center has bargained in good faith with NUHW leadership since March 14, 2023.  The hospital has never refused to bargain with the union at any time. There have been ten negotiation sessions, and tentative agreements have been reached between the parties.”
  “We have more negotiating sessions on the calendar and will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement in the best interests of our hospital, our employees, and most importantly, those whom we serve. During the informational picket, our hospital will remain open, and all services will continue for our community. Our goal is to move forward together as a united team, continuing to ensure West Anaheim Medical Center remains an award-winning hospital providing compassionate patient care to its community and a great place to work. We value our healthcare team and are grateful for the dedicated service they provide to our patients. We continuously support our caregivers, emphasizing safety and a healthy work environment as we offer support and growth opportunities, such as continuing education, tuition reimbursement, career development, clinical ladder programs, and a robust employee assistance program to support mental health and wellness.” 
Last year, nearly 200 nursing assistants, EMTs, housekeepers, food service workers, and pharmacy and lab technicians at West Anaheim Medical Center joined the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) to fight for better wages and safer staffing. Now, they’re preparing to picket the hospital demanding fair treatment and an end to poverty wages that have contributed to many caregivers leaving for better-paying jobs.
WHO/WHAT: Healthcare workers wearing red, chanting, and walking picket lines. 

WHEN/WHERE: 6 am to 2 pm, Thursday, July 13, in front of West Anaheim Medical Center, 3303 W. Orange Ave, Anaheim

Although the Prime Healthcare-owned hospital reported a $21.7 million net profit in 2021, the last year for which data is available, it’s insisting on keeping salaries for many of the workers below $20 per hour. 
The hospital is also refusing in contract negotiations to provide the newly unionized workers the same benefits as its existing unionized workforce. Medical technicians at West Anaheim, who joined NUHW several years ago, receive an additional $2 per hour for working weekends and an additional $6 per hour for working nights. However, the hospital is refusing to provide the same benefits for nursing assistants, housekeepers, and other newly unionized staff.
“Our jobs directly impact the care that patients receive, but management acts like our work isn’t important,” said Pharmacy Tech Jamie Curiel. “Because our hospital treats us as second-class, patients often find themselves waiting too long for care because of high turnover rates and unsafe staffing levels.”
West Anaheim Medical Center is a 219-bed acute care hospital that is one of 25 hospitals in Orange County designated to receive emergency heart attack patients.
Low wages for the newly unionized workers have contributed to 57 percent of them leaving the hospital since the beginning of 2021. Despite the high turnover rate, the newly organized workers, on average, make less than $48,000 per year — far below the $62,591 annual salary required for a single childless wage earner in Orange County, according to the 2023 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wage Calculator.
“We formed a union to fight for safe staffing. We have chronic turnover that results in understaffing the care for patients,” Curiel added. “Prime Healthcare makes a lot of money at West Anaheim Medical Center; we are demanding that they invest in staffing for the benefit of the patients.”
The National Union of Healthcare Workers is a member-led movement that represents more than 16,000 healthcare workers in California, including more than 300 workers at West Anaheim Medical Center.

3 replies »

  1. Heather workers in that facility should be well over poverty wage! They’re working hard to keep the lives of their patients living and healthy. This should be even more justified for their employees. The wellness of their employees should be even more important!