LOS ANGELES — Chanting “Hey, Cedars, you’re no good. Treat your workers like you should!” hundreds of hospital workers held an all-day picket line at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here May 1. Many took the day off or came during breaks at work. Built by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor as one of the May Day actions this year, workers from other hospitals joined in picketing.
The contract of the 1,800 Cedars-Sinai workers expired March 31. They are members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. Staffing levels, health care and conditions on the job are key issues.
“Everyone knows how Cedars-Sinai treats celebrities and powerful people, but few may know how the hospital treats the workers who care for those patients every day,” Adolfo Morales, a clinical partner at Cedars, told the Militant. “We want a voice in delivering quality care, but the hospital is threatening us for speaking out about understaffing or other patient care concerns.”
Hospital bosses are demanding the right to fire workers who speak publicly about understaffing or bloated executive compensation.
“Over the years I have seen two sides of Cedars-Sinai,” Willie Gladly, a housekeeper at Cedars for over 10 years, told the Militant after speaking at the rally. “I got active in the union early last year. I wanted to know more about the union and the contract. I think more workers are getting involved.”
“Workers are getting more injuries from lifting patients,” Leticia Venzon, a clinical partner, and certified nursing assistant for 30 years, said. “We don’t have the time to take care of everyone because there aren’t enough workers.”
Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Los Angeles City Council District 12, joined the action. “I support your fight,” he told picketers. “Workers here, like workers around the world, are facing the carnage brought on by the capitalist system. Acting independently to fight for our rights is the road forward.”