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Like many of the hospital’s employees before them, group of Sunrise health workers vote to unionize

Credit: SEIU Nevada Local 1107

Camalot Todd, Nevada Current
January 17, 2024

SEIU Local 1107, the largest healthcare and public service union in the state, now represents the bulk of employees at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center healthcare workers, including speech-language pathologists, clinical pharmacists, and social workers, who voted to unionize on Jan. 11 and 12.

The next step for some 275 employees is to fill out surveys listing their most important priorities and elect co-workers to represent them on a bargaining committee that will sit down with Sunrise executives to negotiate their wages, benefits and working conditions in a written contract. 

The negotiations are estimated to begin soon. The negotiations last summer with HCA Healthcare frontline staff and nurses took 4 months, the union said via email.

This batch of employees was one of the last remaining non-union groups, outside of doctors, at Sunrise Hospital, which is owned by the largest for-profit health system in the U.S., HCA Healthcare. All the registered nurses, technical employees (like x-ray technicians), and service workers (like certified nursing assistants) were already unionized, according to the union.

Included in the new group seeking a collective bargaining agreement are all full-time and regular part-time clinical pharmacists, medical technologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and speech-language pathologist employees. 

“As an emergency room social worker, I advocate for those who aren’t heard, including abused women and children, seniors, people who are homeless, and those struggling with mental illness. I’m a helper at heart and I absolutely love my job. But when it came to helping ourselves as workers and making sure we’re heard, it was clear that our individual voices were not enough,” Genie Patrick, a social worker at Sunrise Hospital, said in a press release announcing the vote. 

The workers at Sunrise Hospital join 4,700 nurses and health care workers represented by SEIU 1107. Tentative contract agreements covering those workers through March 2026 were reached last year at HCA Healthcare hospitals at Sunrise, MountainView, and Southern Hills Hospitals. That new contract includes a 13.75% wage increase over 3 years starting in July 2023, $2.25 million for wage adjustments to bring job classifications below market up to competitive rates, and no cuts to employer-paid healthcare plans. 

In its most recent financial report, covering the third quarter of 2023, HCA Healthcare reported a revenue of $16.2 billion, up from $14.9 billion over the third quarter of 2022, according to the company’s third quarter 2023 report.

Employees at the hospital have complained about staffing shortages, a complaint that isn’t confined to HCA Healthcare operations in Nevada – HCA Healthcare hospitals have staffing levels 30% below the national average, according to a report by SEUI.

A Sunrise Hospital spokesperson said the hospital has demonstrated its commitment to employees through wage increases, recruitment and retention initiatives to stabilize staffing and safety and protection protocols.

“While we acknowledge the right of our colleagues to unionize, we are disappointed by the outcome of this labor union member vote,” Mussi Marissa, the manager of strategic communications for Sunrise Hospital, said via email. “We prefer a direct working relationship with our colleagues to address their concerns. We respect the federal rights of our colleagues to be a member of a labor union.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.