Hospital workers at the Keck Medical Center of USC began their day-long strike at 6am this morning, protesting what they say is a serious short-staffing problem, a one-year wage freeze, and exclusion from the university's tuition and retirement benefits plan.
Noemi Aguirre, a respiratory therapist, told ABC 7 Los Angeles that one of the protesters biggest concerns are the short-staffing problems at the hospital. "We have a lot of units where we are just plain short-staffed," said Aguirre, "and they haven't addressed those issues for us." She also noted that NUHW has been trying to address this problem for the past 14 months.
Watch Aguirre's interview on ABC 7:
According to a press release from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), the hospital has received $250 million in donations over the last three years, as well as pledges that amount to an additional $150 million. The statement also notes that the federal government has scheduled a hearing for Keck Medical Center managers later in October to address unfair labor practices.
Hospital spokesman Mitch Treem told CBS Los Angeles, "While we are unable to discuss the specifics of our proposal publicly, we can say that our NUHW employees are among the highest-paid in the region."
The NUHW union is made up of hospital workers like radiology and surgery technicians, housekeepers, and respiratory therapists.