Workers at two San Jose hospitals planning to strike Monday

Thousands of California healthcare workers say they’re going on strike next week. Workers at two hospitals in San Jose say they’re joining the strike due short staffing and declining patient care.  

The workers say they’ve been negotiating with HCA Healthcare since January, and now they believe the only way to get what they need to provide the best patient care, is to walk off the job.  

 "I see with my own eyes what’s happening on a daily basis at the hospital," said Bolivar Rivera, Bedside Patient Care.  

Nursing assistants, technicians, respiratory therapists and cooks at Good Samaritan Hospital and Regional Medical Center say they’re prepared to strike on Monday. Bolivar Rivera works at Regional Medical Center in San Jose and says patients are not getting the proper care due to chronic staffing shortages. 

"Yesterday there were no techs for the AM shift for 25 patients in one unit. There were no techs for the PM for 25 patients a unit. The next shift, there were no techs on the floor for 35 patients," Rivera said.   

With 97% union voter approval, more than 3,000 SEUI United Healthcare Workers West members at five HCA Healthcare hospitals in California will strike. HCA Healthcare released this statement:   

"SEIU’s call for a strike is reckless and unnecessary, and not in the interest of patients. This decision by SEIU-UHW leadership is startling and entirely at odds with the progress we have made at the bargaining table, where we have reached agreement on many contract issues. A strike benefits no one and may prevent our communities from having access to timely medical care. The hospital leadership teams are working day and night to prepare in advance of the planned strikes. Should SEIU-UHW continue down this misguided path, we will do our best to continue being a valuable healthcare resource to our communities." – Antonio Castelan, HCA Healthcare Far West Division Communications Manager

"Sometimes I cannot sleep because I’m thinking about who’s going to take care of the patients when I go home. I don’t want to see one of my family members end up at the hospital waiting for somebody to come help them go to the bathroom because we don’t have enough staff," said Rivera. 

SEIU officials say they’ve had 16 bargaining sessions with HCA so far. Their contract expired at the end of March, but it was extended to April 30th. The union says they’ll continue negotiating Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. 

"I’m going to keep fighting for the patients and our community so whenever they get sick in the hospital, there’s going to always be somebody around to help them for their needs," Rivera said.     

Union officials say staffing shortages can lead worker safety issues too, and they’re also asking HCA to negotiate wages that are in line with the cost of living in California.