Health care workers strike in Antioch over short staffing, labor

Health care workers are on strike Monday morning at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch over short staffing and unfair labor practices, union officials said.   

About 375 workers with Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West walked off the job and onto the picket line at 5 a.m. at the center at 3901 Lone Tree Way.   

A variety of job classes are on strike including emergency room technicians, phlebotomists, and among others, janitorial staff. 

None of the striking workers are doctors or registered nurses.  

Respiratory therapist Stefanye Sartain said she's upset over lack of staffing at the hospital.  

 "I want them to take the staffing problem seriously," she said.   

She said that some days workers don't get lunches or breaks. Sartain claims that that workers are unable to provide adequate care to patients.   Sartain said the hospital was short-staffed before the COVID-19 pandemic and in the last year or so the hospital has failed to fill 30 positions. The positions are not even posted yet, she said.   

Respiratory therapists are having to perform EKGs at times because the EKG technician was canceled at that time, Sartain said.   

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe joined the picket line Monday morning to show his support for the worker, union officials said.   

Striking workers plan to be on the picket line Tuesday through Friday this week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.   

Sutter Health spokeswoman Monique Binkley Smith said Monday morning, "We're here ready to negotiate."   

Sutter Health said the strike will distract from patient care and that the union is refusing to "make a good faith effort to reach a deal," Binkley Smith said.   

"The union is more interested in flexing its political power than reaching a fair agreement on behalf of its members," a Sutter Health spokesperson said.   

"We stand by our offer," the spokesperson said.  

 The offer includes a 13 percent salary jump over four years, 100 percent employer-paid health insurance coverage for employees and families and money for employees to access "education, credentialing and growth opportunities."  

 The money will also help with hiring new employees, the Sutter Health spokesperson said.