Thousands were slated to walk out next week, but the two sides have come to a tentative agreement.
Days before thousands of workers were set to go on strike at five HCA Healthcare hospitals in California, the employees and hospitals have reached a tentative agreement.
Workers and management reached an agreement in the closing hours of scheduled negotiations early Thursday morning, according to a release from SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West.
Citing a need for better wages and staffing, about 3,000 workers had planned a five-day strike beginning Monday, May 22. While union leadership announced the agreement, the full union must ratify the deal. A ratification vote is expected to take place later this month, the union said.
The union said the tentative agreement offers positives for workers.
“The settlement at the five HCA facilities includes significant investments in the workforce and wage increases that will help retain experienced healthcare workers, including 15% raises over three years, and the agreement protects healthcare and education benefits for workers,” the union said.
WIth the deal, workers and HCA avoided a strike that would have affected these hospitals: HCA Good Samaritan Hospital and HCA Regional Medical Center in San Jose, HCA Los Robles Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, HCA West Hills Hospital, and HCA Riverside Community Hospital.
The workers who were planning to walk out include emergency room technicians, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, lab techs, dieticians, pharmacy techs, food service workers, transporters, and others.
Xochitl Gonzalez, a patient care technician and union leader at Los Robles Medical Center, said in a statement that too many workers have left for better paying jobs.
“Reaching this agreement wasn’t easy but we stood together to advocate for worker and patient safety, improved staffing levels, and fair wages and benefits that reflect the vital work we do everyday,” she said in the statement.
Thousands of nurses in New York went on strike for three days in January before the union and management reached a deal. Hospital industry analysts expect to see more intense battles between labor and managment in the coming months.