Planned protests of two Bakersfield hospitals are expected to take place on Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
Those leading the protest said that the protest stems from concerns that the interests of patients and the community will be ignored after the hospitals’ owner – Dignity Health – merges into a $28 billion corporation.
“Patients, workers and the community need to be reassured that this new corporation is going to look out for them in the future,” said Jermene Ebanks, an employee at Mercy Hospital Southwest. “It’s all too common for a mega-corporation to squeeze employees and harm patients in the process rather than invest in both of them.”
Workers claim that they want to secure a strong contract with Dignity Health before the merger is finalized because of Catholic Health Initiatives’ history of undermining workers and patient care. In the year ending June 30, 2017, Catholic Health Initiatives eliminated nearly 3,000 full-time jobs at its hospitals across the United States.
Dignity Health sent a statement to 23ABC News stating that:
“Last month, Dignity Health began negotiations with the SEIU-UHW on a new master agreement for about 15,000 employees that SEIU represents at 28 Dignity Health hospitals in California. Throughout these negotiations we have shown respect for our employees and Dignity Health continues to bargain in good faith. We pledge to maintain open lines of communication, and do everything we can to reach an agreement that is fair to our employees, our patients, and our organization.”