Florida Members Ratify New HCA ContractJuly 27, 2021
1199ers make strides and fend off cuts.
Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East—the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida—have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract negotiated with HCA hospitals throughout the state. The contract secures across-the- board raises and other benefits for nurses and other staff who have served on the front lines of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The deal covers about 10,000 workers represented by 1199SEIU in 19 HCA hospitals across Florida.
Under the new three-year agreement, workers will receive minimum annual raises of approximately 7.5 percent, as well as equity adjustments that could boost yearly base raises 5 percent; additional market raises for hard-to-fill positions; ratification bonuses of $800 for full-time and $400 for part-time workers; higher on-call pay; and other wage-related increases.
Members of the union’s bargaining committee negotiated for more than a year with HCA, the nation’s largest healthcare company, before reaching an agreement. In addition to raises, union members and leaders secured enhanced health insurance and other benefits, as well as workplace protections regarding staffing and assignments.
The bargaining team also stopped HCA from implementing millions of dollars’ worth of proposed cuts, takeaways and reduced workplace protections.
“It was long, difficult year of bargaining, especially in the middle of a pandemic when our members were risking their lives each day to protect patients and the public from the deadly COVID-19 virus,” said Angela Gordin, a phlebotomist at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, FL. “But the overwhelming approval of the contract shows the benefits and power of workers when we stand up together for what we need from a company that earns billions of dollars in profits each year.”
In 2020, HCA reported profits of approximately $3.75 billion. The vote by 1199SEIU members to ratify the agreement was nearly unanimous.
“Our union members are committed to providing the highest quality care for their patients, and they have been true healthcare heroes during the ongoing pandemic,” said Dale Ewart, executive vice president of 1199SEIU in Florida. “In addition to delivering raises to workers, this new agreement will benefit those under their care. Better wages and workplace conditions will retain experienced and talented caregivers, especially during this extended emergency when burnout and turnover can otherwise stress both staffing and care levels.”
With Florida as a hotspot for the pandemic, HCA and other healthcare workers have endured waves of infected patients, maxed-out emergency rooms and COVID-19 isolation units, critical shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), the daily fear of bringing the virus home to their families, and many other pressures.
“Ratifying this contract is a big relief and a step in the right direction toward what we deserve after an extremely challenging year,” said Karren Knight, a patient care technician at Plantation General Hospital. “Strong unions help all workers—union or not—and our communities in general.”