Cedars-Sinai healthcare workers, hospital ratify three-year labor contract

After waging the hospital’s first strike in 40 years, more than 2,000 healthcare workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and hospital management have ratified a new three-year labor agreement that includes higher wages and increased safety protocols.

The agreement was announced late Friday, May 27.

The employees — including clinical partners, transporters, foodservice technicians, environmental services staff and surgical technicians — are represented by SEIU-UHW.

Jose Sanchez, a lead transporter at Cedars, said the outcome was welcome after weeks of failed labor negotiations.

“Reaching an agreement was not easy,” he said. “But we fought hard for better working conditions, wages and benefits that reflect the difficult yet vital work we do every day to provide the best care for our patients.”

The new three-year agreement includes the largest raises ever in the union’s contract history at Cedars.

The contract includes:

  • Improved safety measures, including access to proper personal protective equipment and testing for all workers, as well as notification of exposures
  • Average raises of 17.46% at the end of three years
  • An increased minimum wage that will rise to $21 per hour by 2024
  • Protected healthcare and other benefits

The workers launched a five-day strike the week of May 9, alleging they were underpaid, understaffed and struggling to provide adequate patient care. They had accused the Los Angeles hospital of unfair labor practices and were urging the facility to bargain in good faith.

The 2,000-plus employees represent about 14% of Cedars’ workforce. Their previous three-year contract expired March 31.

In a May 8 letter to employees, patients and the community, Cedars President and CEO Thomas Priselac said the hospital’s precautions and safeguards were “consistent with federal and state guidelines to protect all employees who enter patient areas.”

“We also provided the same level of access to personal protective equipment to all employees—regardless of the job they performed,” he said, adding that the hospital continues to pay employees who are sick with COVID-19 while they recuperate so they don’t have to use their accrued vacation or sick leave to take time off.

State health and safety regulators fined Cedars $97,700 last year for seven citations that were in violation of Cal/OSHA regulations aimed at protecting workplace safety.

Four were classified as “serious” health and safety violations related to COVID-19 prevention, including a failure to immediately report the serious illness of several workers who contracted COVID-19, and a failure to maintain an adequate exposure-control plan to protect employees who are at increased risk of contracting certain airborne infections.