United States Trustee Appoints 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East To Steward Bankruptcy Committee, Caregivers To Have Key Seat At Table To Seek Just And Equitable Treatment For All

May 17, 2024

florida logo release.jpg

MIAMI – In a win for Florida hospital patients, caregivers and the communities they serve, the United States Trustee, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system, has appointed 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the state’s largest union of healthcare workers, to serve on the committee monitoring the bankruptcy case of Steward Health Care system.

The first meeting of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in Steward Health Care System (Case No. 24-90213) will be today (May 17) to discuss “bankruptcy cases generally, the duties and responsibilities of the committee and its members, and importantly, the selection of professionals to represent the committee,” according to the U.S. Trustee letter delivered to the healthcare workers union.

Among its 31 facilities across eight states, Steward Healthcare operates eight hospitals in Florida.  These include Melbourne Regional Medical Center, Rockledge Regional Medical Center, Sebastian River Medical Center, Coral Gables Medical Center, Florida Medical Center (Lauderdale Lakes), Hialeah Hospital, North Shore Medical Center (Miami) and Palmetto General Hospital (Hialeah).

About 2,000 nurses, medical technicians and other workers at North Shore, Palmetto and Florida Medical Center are represented by 1199SEIU.

“We appreciate that the U.S. Trustee recognizes the enormous stake that frontline caregivers have in this process,” said Roxey Nelson, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU in Florida. “It is critical that these employees have a seat at the table and that their crucial expertise is considered as important decisions are being made about the future of Steward Healthcare throughout these bankruptcy proceedings.”

The union has been calling on Steward and Florida officials to ensure transparency and to properly serve workers and communities since Steward abruptly closed key units and laid off about 150 staff at North Shore Medical Center in March. 

The company then declared bankruptcy on May 6.

The North Shore closures were to the Labor & Delivery, Obstetrics, Neonatal Intensive Care and Psych, some of the most critical services for the well-being of Miami families, especially Black, Latino and  low-income women and children who already have limited access to care.

Similar cuts or closures at Steward’s other Florida facilities would likewise create a wider crisis in care for surrounding neighborhoods in numerous communities around the state. “There is nothing more important than protecting the jobs of these dedicated caregivers, and thereby ensuring that patients and communities continue receiving the critical health services that they need,” said Nelson.

In addition, layoffs and shift reductions create significant financial hardships for the workers.  These committed caregivers – the “healthcare heroes” who put themselves at risk and protected Floridians throughout the pandemic – desperately need these jobs to support their own families.

“Our union contract provides us many strong employment protections others don’t have, but it still is a very concerning situation,” said Alexandra Sosa, RN in the North Shore ICU.  “Nurses are caregivers and nurturers by nature and we’re dedicated to caring for our patients, co-workers and communities. We need to have Steward honor its commitments to all of us, as well.”

1199SEIU is urging state officials to meet with frontline caregivers who work at the company’s Florida facilities. As part of this effort, union members will lead a town hall meeting currently scheduled June 26 at North Shore so caregivers, elected representatives, community leaders and residents can discuss the issue and highlight priorities.  

“Our members are the topic experts.  They live it and work it every day, and can provide the most complete first-hand account of this critical healthcare crisis,” Nelson said. “We look forward to having a key voice to find solutions as the bankruptcy and overall Steward Health Care situation progresses.”  


About 1199SEIU: 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest union of healthcare workers in the country representing more than 450,000 nurses and healthcare workers nationwide, including more than 35,000 in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities throughout Florida.