RIVERSIDE, CA – On Wednesday, November 22, 2023, unionized nurses at Riverside Community Hospital made the decision to walk off their jobs. The reason? To draw attention to unsatisfactory working conditions that persist after six months of negotiations with the corporate ownership of the facility, with no desired outcomes achieved.
At 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the strike began, organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 121RN. This action will take place in intervals until Monday morning, coinciding with similar strikes at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and West Hills Hospital.
SEIU Local 121RN represents over 1,000 healthcare workers at RCH. Although it is unclear how many will participate in the strike, it will mostly occur from 7 a.m. to noon over the five days, with reduced hours on Thanksgiving Day.
The decision to strike at Riverside Community Hospital disappointed the leadership of HCA Healthcare Southern California. In a statement released on Wednesday, they expressed their dissatisfaction and claimed to have made significant investments in negotiations since May. However, the union seems to have not taken these sessions seriously, opting for the strike from the outset.
Nurses, through a statement from SEIU, highlight that nurse-to-patient ratios are causing a “widespread crisis.” Units are understaffed, negatively impacting the quality of healthcare.
Complaints also address issues such as inadequate workplace violence prevention, the ban on union representatives entering some facilities, and “misinformation” circulated by administrators related to the previous labor stoppage in 2020.
In the last three years, the California Department of Public Health has noted hundreds of staffing violations at these medical facilities. Nurses express concern about the substitution of patient companions with virtual companions, considering this system inadequate for handling patients in critical situations.
While wage increases and benefits are not explicitly mentioned, SEIU 121RN Executive Director Rosanna Méndez emphasizes that healthcare workers, like other workers, are demanding recognition for their sacrifices.
The strike by unionized nurses stems from stalled negotiations and serious concerns. While workers seek improvements in working conditions, HCA Healthcare Southern California’s administration aims to maintain continuity of healthcare during this period of union action.