Hundreds of striking workers hit the picket lines at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank for a third straight day. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) says 700 of its members are taking part in a 5-day work stoppage because of “bad faith bargaining and other illegal tactics meant to silence workers.”
Yesterday, many of the picketers stood out in front of the hospital at West Alameda Avenue and Buena Vista Street waving strike signs. Some signs encouraged motorists to honk to show their support. Many drivers did just that, resulting in a boisterous scene. In a statement, the hospital expressed concerns about what Patricia Aidem, Hospital Public Relations Director, described as “excessive noise and safety hazards.”
“Sadly, the union’s decision to march through the main circular driveway—and near the entrance to our Emergency Department–shouting, clanging cow bells and blowing whistles is producing intense noise that can be heard in the units with our most vulnerable patients.
Equally, concerning are safety issues. One car blocked an ambulance while delivering coffee to protesters. In other instances, protesters in the main driveway prevented an ambulance attempting to transport a patient who waited 30 minutes on a gurney in the lobby, and a Burbank Fire Department rescue squad reported picketers in the street created a hazard.
Nurse leaders from our Emergency Department, intensive care unit, NICU, maternity and other departments are concerned for their patients and visitors, some we fear will feel intimidated trying to enter our hospital for care or to see their critically ill family members. ”
SEIU-UHW spokesperson, Renée Saldaña, responded to the hospital complaints this way, “There are lots of frontline caregivers who can speak to how Providence’s staffing is putting patients at risk, and we aren’t going to play into their desperate attempts to divert from that.”
The contract for the non-nursing strikers expired on August 5. The last round of negotiations broke off on October 13. The main sticking points are pay and staffing.