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Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley hospitals to continue serving the community during engineers’ four-day strike

Santa Rosa Memorial, Petaluma Valley hospitals to continue serving the community during engineers' four-day strike

Hospitals Affirm Uninterrupted, High Quality Service for Patients

(Santa Rosa, CA - November 21, 2012) Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals are fully prepared to continue maintaining uninterrupted operations in the event of a four-day strike planned by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39. The Local 39 Operating Engineers, which represent a total of 18 employees at the two hospitals, notified hospital leaders of their intent to strike both facilities starting at 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, and ending at 7 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26, 2012.

The union's decision to conduct its second strike during the month of November is related to ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. Contract terms that remain unresolved include economic provisions, such as on-call pay for engineers.

At the same time, the National Union of Healthcare Workers – which represents employees at Santa Rosa Memorial – has indicated it will engage in informational picketing outside the Santa Rosa hospital starting the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 22. The hospital is not currently negotiating a contract with NUHW, which ratified its contract last spring (in 2012).

"It's disappointing that Local 39 called its second multi-day strike in less than a month when we have not had the opportunity to return to the bargaining table," said Debra Miller, Vice President of Human Resources for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County, which operates the two hospitals. "As we proved during recent strikes, we are committed to continuing to provide high-quality, safe, compassionate care and service without interruption. The decision by the engineer's union will not distract from our focus on serving patients, their loved ones, and health care partners throughout the region who rely on us."

Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley have contracted with an agency to secure qualified and experienced replacement engineers, which is standard industry practice during a strike. The agency through which these temporary replacement engineers are being hired required a four-day minimum contractual commitment to secure their services. This means the temporary replacement engineers will work at both hospitals for four days, through Monday morning.

"We highly value our engineers, and respect their right to strike," Miller said. "At the same time, we believe striking at a health care facility should be undertaken only after all other means of reaching compromise have been exhausted. We're committed to just and fair wages and benefits for our engineers, and have reached out to the union in hopes of settling unresolved issues and avoiding a strike."

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