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State Board Issues Complaint: VHS Board Should Have Signed Contract With Caregivers

Thursday, August 28, 2008 General News J E 4
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HEMET, Calif., Aug. 27 The state PublicEmployment Relations Board (PERB) on Monday issued a complaint against theboard of directors of Valley Health System (VHS) for backing out of a contractwith workers that the board had already voted to agree to.

"I do this job because I want to help people, not for the money," saidLisa Howell, a registered nurse at Menifee Valley Medical Center. "But afteryears of working for this hospital, the board is saying they won't pay me whatthey said because they didn't actually sign our contract. I feel like theydon't care about the work we do."

In October 2006, workers, united in SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West,negotiated a contract with Valley Health System to protect patient care andworkplace standards at Hemet Valley Hospital and Menifee Valley Hospital. Thepublicly-elected VHS Board of Directors voted to approve the contract at anopen meeting, and workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract.

The improvements spelled out in the contract were implemented in thehospitals -- but the board never signed it. Now that VHS is in bankruptcy, themanagement company put in charge of the hospitals has said they won't eversign the contract, and begun cutting workers' wages and reducing benefits asif no agreement existed.

The PERB complaint says the board violated labor law by not signing thecontract after it was voted on by both management and workers. Anadministrative law judge will next schedule a settlement conference. Workershave also filed charges against the VHS board for cuts in wages and benefitsin violation of the contract.

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest,fastest-growing hospital and healthcare union in the western United States andrepresents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional,technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-qualityhealthcare for all.

Contact: Sadie Crabtree, 323-365-2083

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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