Cedars-Sinai reaches 3-year deal with union after 5-day strike

Cedars-Sinai Health System reached a deal for a three-year contract with more than a thousand healthcare workers who went on a five-day strike over low wages.

The system and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West announced the deal Monday that includes an average raise of 17.46% at the end of three years and improved safety measures including access to proper personal protective equipment. 

“This was possible because we as a union stood together to advocate for the safety and well-being of healthcare workers and our patients,” said Jose Sanchez, a lead transporter for Cedars-Sinai, in a statement provided by the union. 

The agreement applies to staff in maintenance, service and clinical support areas.

The union initiated the strike over what it called inadequate staffing practices, worker safety concerns and low wages. A release from the union said on the strike vote that it included several job classes ranging from certified nursing assistants to transporters as well as surgical and food service technicians.

“Cedars should invest more in their low-wage frontline caregivers and less in highly paid executives that rarely interact with patients,” said Yudis Cruz, a certified nursing assistant, in a statement. 

The union said Monday that “nobody will make less than $21/hour by the end of the contract.”

Cedars-Sinai President and CEO Thomas Priselac said the deal is part of an effort by the system to “remain dedicated to providing competitive compensation and benefits that truly reflect the professionalism, skill and commitment of all those who work at our organization.”

The deal is the latest example of labor strife that has emerged since the start of the pandemic. Unions representing nurses and other healthcare workers have called for more protection from contracting the virus, leading workers in some systems to go on strike.