Healthcare workers in Castro Valley launch one-day strike

Health care workers at Sutter Health Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley began a one-day strike this morning.

The union representing about 140 respiratory therapists, lab technicians and imaging technicians said workers authorized the strike after negotiations between the union and Sutter Health broke down last month. Both sides had been negotiating for ten months.

"We're burned out, the last ten months have been brutal and it's getting even worse as we speak," said Maleah Best, a Medical Lab Technician at Eden Medical Center. "We want more staff. We want the patients to get the care they need and we don't have the staff to do that."

Best said hospital management is limiting the amount of Personal Protective Equipment workers get. They are also concerned about proposed cuts to benefits and pensions.

"We're tired. We wish that we were never out here," Best said. "We offered to extend the contract to get us through Covid. They turned us down and wanted full table negotiations. This is where we've been for the last ten months."

Sutter Health declined to have a representative speak with KTVU, but instead sent a statement that read, in part:

"We are deeply disappointed by the Teamsters decision to engage in this highly disruptive one-day strike during the largest surge our state has seen, especially when the union has summarily rejected 98% of our proposals and they are demanding pay increases while making 7-14% more than their peers in this market."

The statement also said that Sutter has "prioritized securing and providing appropriate PPE for our workforce."

The Teamsters Union representing the workers said Sutter Health received $394 million in federal aid under the CARES act, at the start of the pandemic.