On Friday, Jan. 29, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) announced its intention to stage two strikes, simultaneously, affecting Keck Hospital of USC at the University of Southern California (USC). NUHW workers on strike include respiratory therapists, surgery technicians, unit secretaries, environmental services and facilities engineers. NUHW workers who are employed by Sodexo and work in the Keck Hospital cafeteria will also be engaged in a work stoppage.

The disputes between NUHW and Keck, on the one hand, and NUHW and Sodexo, on the other hand are due to disagreements over economic issues. We can say, emphatically, that the strike is unrelated to patient care or patient safety.

With respect to the work stoppage by Keck employees, we can emphatically say that our organization continues to offer competitive benefits packages that attract top talent. Our last, best and final proposal, which the Hospital implemented last week, provides for a minimum of nine percent wage increases over the life of the contract, with larger increases for positions that are under market. Moreover, Keck Hospital will continue to offer NUHW employees the option for a healthcare plan with all premiums paid by the hospital. No other group within Keck Hospital has this option.

The Union has rejected the Hospital’s wage proposal and is demanding that the Hospital provide education benefits not available to any other represented group within the Keck Health System. Any allegations that our refusal to concede on this benefit is discriminatory are patently untrue.

In anticipation of the Feb. 10 strike Keck Hospital will bring in trained contract workers. We will have additional administrative and managerial oversight to make sure operations run smoothly. Our doctors, nurses and support staff will work hard to maintain the safe environment that our patients, their families and our employees expect from us every day. Ultimately, our organization remains focused on our top priority – collaborating across the organization to provide our patients with beyond excellent care.