From Tom Priselac to Our Community
A Letter to Our Patients, Neighbors and Employees from Cedars-Sinai's President and CEO
To Our Community, Patients and Employees:
I am deeply disheartened to share this news. For nearly two months, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has negotiated in good faith with representatives of SEIU-UHW to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement for employees represented by the union. We had hoped to avoid a strike with contract offers that would continue to reward our represented employees with market-leading pay—including substantial pay increases—for their hard work, excellent performance and dedication to the community.
Unfortunately, the leadership of SEIU-UHW threatened to strike even before we sat down to exchange full proposals in early March. During lengthy bargaining sessions, it became clear to us that union leaders never intended to reach agreement with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on a new contract without a strike. This was made clearer to us over the weekend when the union broke off negotiations without ever responding to our latest offer and instead decided to proceed with its strike.
The union represents about 14% of employees at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, including maintenance workers, service workers and clinical support workers. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center nurses, physicians and researchers are not part of the union.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has long enjoyed a positive and collaborative relationship with SEIU-UHW. We have successfully reached 11 contracts over the last 35 years without a strike, rewarding our valued SEIU-UHW employees for the important roles they play in helping the medical center serve the community.
We have returned to the bargaining table day after day during the most recent contract talks in the hope of reaching an equitable agreement. During our negotiations, the union has waged an almost daily campaign to discredit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in ways that do not line up with the facts. Now, we are speaking up to establish a number of truths.
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has offered the union average wage increases of 16% over the length of the three-year contract, starting immediately upon ratification.
- Since our founding in 1902, Cedars-Sinai has earned national recognition for safety and for providing the highest quality patient care. Cedars-Sinai has consistently earned five stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—the highest rating from the federal government and an honor earned by just 14 percent of U.S. hospitals surveyed. The medical center is one of the Top 10 hospitals in the nation, consistently earning a spot on the Honor Roll of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals.”
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center quickly recognized the overwhelming stress and pressure put on our teams at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately took steps to preserve a safe and rewarding workplace.
- We used the same universal precautions and safeguards, consistent with federal and state guidelines, to protect all employees who enter patient areas. We also provided the same level of access to personal protective equipment to all employees—regardless of the job they performed.
- We continued employment for all of our employees during the pandemic.
- We continued to pay employees sick with COVID-19 while they were recuperating so that they did not have to use their accrued vacation or sick leave to take time off.
Please know that we will remain open and fully operational during the strike. While we are disappointed with the current outcome of recent negotiations, we stand ready to continue positive and collaborative talks with the union. We understand that a fair agreement can only come through constructive discussions at the bargaining table.
Cedars-Sinai’s goals have not changed: The safety and wellbeing of our patients are sacrosanct. We're here and ready to talk. Our patients and our employees deserve nothing less.
Thomas M. Priselac
President and CEO, Cedars-Sinai