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Health care workers cite understaffing, poor conditions in planned strike

Health care workers at two East Bay centers are planning to strike next month because of understaffing, poor working conditions and unfair labor practices, union officials said.

Workers at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch and John Muir Health Behavioral Health Center in Concord said that conditions where they work are dire and managers are ignoring workers’ concerns about understaffing.

Bertha Lopez, a unit secretary at John Muir Health Behavioral Health Center, said in a statement:

“We’re burnt out, we’re exhausted, and we can’t go on like this. … John Muir needs to address the understaffing issues that have made working conditions impossible here.”

Jennifer Stone, an emergency room technician at Sutter Delta Medical Center, said in a statement:

“We’re drowning. There’s just not enough staff.”

Stone continued:

“We’re wearing too many hats – we’re talking down angry Covid patients then we’re rushing to a code then we’re talking to family members who just lost a loved one. We can’t give adequate care.”

Workers say limited staffing predates the Covid-19 pandemic following years of decisions by managers.

Workers in a variety of jobs plan to strike, including mental health counselors, emergency room technicians, phlebotomists, psychiatric technicians and respiratory therapists, among others.

The workers are represented by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.

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