Health & Medicine

Dignity Health workers demand higher wages, better benefits

Protesters wearing blue Dignity Health scrubs and purple union T-shirts filled the sidewalk in front of Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento on Wednesday, with more than 100 health care workers and their families demanding higher wages from hospital administration.

Bargaining committees at Dignity Health facilities throughout California have been attempting to bargain with management since spring, but the health system refuses to raise wages, said Tom Parker, spokesman for the SEIU-UHW, which represents 90,000 health care workers throughout the state. The union has not said it plans to call a strike because of the dispute.

“Most of the other chains are raising wages,” Parker said. “Dignity is the only one that seems to be flat-lined in terms of wages.”

In an emailed statement, Dignity Health administrators said they are willing to resolve differences between the two sides at the bargaining table. They also apologized to people in the community for any inconveniences created by the rally. Mercy General representatives would not provide specifics about the disputed contract.

“The health care workers participating in the informational picket are valued and respected members of our health care team,” the statement read. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith in the hopes of reaching a fair and equitable agreement with our union.”

The SEIU has planned roughly 30 more rallies at Dignity facilities throughout California over the next two weeks.

Nicole Carson, a resident care assistant at Mercy McMahon Terrace in East Sacramento who took the megaphone Wednesday, said she makes $10.60 an hour at her full-time job and has not received a substantial raise in two years, despite her 20 years of experience.

“I love our employers because of their heart and dedication,” Carson said. “You can’t keep cutting people’s stuff. You can’t freeze wages and retain educated people who know what they’re doing. It’s about respect for patient care.”