Several health workers have been gathering around the South Sacramento Kaiser facility since Sept. 18th to strike a new contract Kaiser has generated.
These people who have been surrounding the facility holding protest signs are stationary engineers, represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 39.
“Local 39 exists to provide for the general welfare of its members and to improve the economic position and conditions of employment for its members, their families and workers everywhere,” Local 39’s mission statement reads.
Stanley Golik, strike captain for Local 39 for the South Sacramento Kaiser Engineers, was one of many engineers protesting outside the facility.
“We’re doing it because Kaiser was not bargaining in good faith, they refused to come to the table and bargain with us,” Golik said. “They waited till the last minute, and then they offered us a substandard contract and it was so ridiculous that we couldn’t accept it, we voted Saturday morning on the 18th and voted to [overwhelmingly] not take the contract.”
Kaiser released a statement on Sept. 19th stating that they are offering wage increases to their employees but cannot meet Local 39’s demands due to economic downturn and run the risk of making health care unaffordable for their members.
“We are seeking no takeaways in our contract proposal with Local 39. We are offering wage increases and bonuses that would provide employees with an average of $3,600 more each year,” the statement said. “We will continue to bargain in good faith with Local 39 in the hope of reaching a final, mutually beneficial contract as soon as possible.”
Golik has been working in the South Sacramento facility for 16 and a half years and has been in the trade for 25 years.
“It was like a kick in the gut, and they basically pushed us out because they waited till the last minute,” Golik said. “We’re well trained, we are union engineers, stationary engineers and we all go through a 4 year apprenticeship plus it takes a lifetime to learn this trade.”
Golik and many of his colleagues are responsible for maintaining all life safety systems, fire alarm systems, HVAC systems and operating tables and rooms inside the facility.
Aside from wage disputes, work conditions was another factor in Local 39’s negotiations.
Due to being short staffed, stationary and biomedical engineers are being sent to other facilities.
“I can’t imagine going into a building I’ve never been to and try to find where things are, I wouldn’t even know where to start,” Golik said.
Kaiser and Local 39 have not reached an agreement.
“We value all of our employees and are calling on them to talk to their union leadership and urge them to reach an agreement as soon as possible,” Kaiser’s statement read.
Golik said that the vaccination mandate, if mandated, would be negotiated separately from this contract.
“All we want is to get a contract right now, we want a fair raise,” Golik said. “We want to work, we’re concerned about patients and that they’re being taken care of, that’s the most important.”