Prime Healthcare Workers Begin Week-Long Strike in Southern California

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Prime Healthcare Workers Begin Week-Long Strike in Southern California

Medical workers strike at Garden Grove Hospital in Garden Grove, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

John FredricksSophie Li

John Fredricks & Sophie Li

12/20/2023

Updated: 12/20/2023

LOS ANGELES—Around 1,800 frontline healthcare workers at four Prime Healthcare facilities in Southern California launched a week-long strike Dec. 20, set to extend through the Christmas holiday.
The striking workers are at Prime St. Francis Medical Center, Lynwood; Prime Centinela Medical Center, Inglewood; Prime Encino Medical Center, Encino; and Prime Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center, Garden Grove.
Although picket lines will run daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Friday, the strike is set to extend through the holiday, with workers planning to return to work Dec. 27, according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The union states that its fight aims to address understaffing, turnover, and patient care concerns.
“It’s now common to work 15-hour days. We’re understaffed out here, and we need better healthcare for ourselves to stay healthy for our patients,” Certified Phlebotomist Georgina Rebolledo of Garden Grove Hospital told The Epoch Times.
According to Ms. Rebolledo, understaffing is a major issue for her and her team at the Garden Grove Hospital. At one point, she recalled having to step in and assist a patient with reviving CPR as they awaited treatment.
Another worker at the picket line said that better working conditions and benefits have led some of her coworkers and friends to leave the state for opportunities in other states, including Texas.
“What we are asking for from PrimeHealthcare is not much; it’s for a better living wage and health care,” Garden Grove Hospital In-Take Secretary and X-Ray technician Esmerelda—who declined to provide her last name—told The Epoch Times. “We are overworked and are not asking for much.”
This strike marks the second recent work stoppage at Prime Healthcare facilities in the region. In October, the SEIU United Healthcare Workers West union initiated a five-day protest as part of the first strike.
According to Prime Healthcare Vice President of Communications Elizabeth Nikels, the Ontario, California-based company is continuing to negotiate with the union.
“We share gratitude and pride for every member of Prime Healthcare and for the roles they’ve played contributing to the millions of lives touched over the last several years,” Ms. Nikels told The Epoch Times.
“Proposals have been delivered to the union from the hospital that would increase wages and provide a valuable health care plan, maintain important benefits, and be competitive with other hospitals in the market,” she said. “It is disappointing that despite progress being made, the union has walked away from negotiations and has chosen to strike.”
Medical workers strike at Garden Grove Hospital in Garden Grove, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Medical workers strike at Garden Grove Hospital in Garden Grove, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Union officials said workers are taking the action “after months of trying to address the facilities’ long-standing issues of understaffing, worker turnover, and patient care concerns at the bargaining table.”
According to the union, its efforts have been met by bad-faith bargaining and other unfair labor practices by Prime Healthcare management.
“For months, Prime management has been intimidating and attempting to silence healthcare workers for raising concerns about patient care and short staffing at their hospitals,” Dolores Aguilar, a unit secretary at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, said in a statement.
Ms. Aguilar is one of four front-line health care workers suspended from the medical center just days after participating in a protest over staffing and patient care conditions at Prime Healthcare’s headquarters in Ontario, according to SEIU.
Georgina Rebolledo participates in a strike with fellow medical workers at Garden Grove Hospital in Garden Grove, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Georgina Rebolledo participates in a strike with fellow medical workers at Garden Grove Hospital in Garden Grove, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Front-line health care workers joining the strike include emergency room technicians, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, radiology technicians, medical assistants, respiratory technicians, and others, according to the union.
The hospitals will remain open during the strike with “qualified temporary resources throughout [the] nursing and non-nursing departments,” and “maintain services and compliance with regulatory standards,” said Ms. Nikels, the health care system’s communications vice president.
City New Service contributed to this report. 
John Fredricks

John Fredricks

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John Fredricks is a California-based journalist for The Epoch Times. His reportage and photojournalism features have been published in a variety of award-winning publications around the world.

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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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