Employees at Sutter Delta Medical Center stage one-day walk-out

Photo by Andrew Rulloda

Healthcare workers at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch staged a one-day walk-out on Nov. 8 in response to concerns over staffing conditions and wages. They say these conditions have been worsened by the pandemic.

More than 350 employees at Antioch’s Sutter Delta Medical Center walked off the job on Nov. 8 after negotiations between the healthcare workers’ union and the medical center broke down.

This is the second protest at the medical facility in recent weeks, following an Oct. 4 strike regarding insufficient staffing, being overworked as a result of staffing issues and what United Healthcare Workers West say is inadequate pay. Workers at Sutter Delta say these concerns existed before the pandemic and have worsened since it began. United Healthcare Workers West is a “healthcare justice union” operating across California to ensure fair working conditions for healthcare workers. The organization says Sutter Delta has lost 37 caregivers since the start of the pandemic, contributing to the problem.

“We are still unsafe,” said Tom Black, a certified nurse assistant at the facility. “We’re overwhelmed, we’re understaffed. We want better staffing. We’ve reached out to Sutter and they’re still not willing to bargain with us.”

Sutter Delta Medical Center issued its own statement regarding the conflict.

“We are disappointed that minutes after our second mediated negotiation session, the union decided to give notice of another strike and walk away from patients who need them.“ After that, we had no choice but to turn our focus to our top priority — meeting the needs of our patients by securing qualified workers to replace the staff who decide to walk off the job instead of caring for patients.”

Sutter Delta nurses walked off the job in protest for more staff and better wages on Nov. 9.

The contract proposed by Sutter Delta includes a 13% salary increase over a four-year period, according to the spokesperson for the organization, that would see employees receiving a 3% annual increase each year for three years and a 4% increase in the fourth year. The proposed contract would also include 100% employer-paid health coverage for employees and their families.

Although Sutter Delta said it stands by this offer, employees such as Black believe the organization is bargaining in bad faith.

“They need to do good-faith bargaining,” he said. “Give us a decent proposal. Make something concrete, put it in writing.”