Florida Caregivers File Unfair Labor Practice Complaint Against HCA Hospitals; Vote To Refuse Voluntary Overtime Due To Safety Concerns, Staffing Crisis

May 24, 2023

Ed Gilhuly 

MIAMI – Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida – have filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint against HCA-affiliated hospitals in Florida and have voted to refuse voluntary overtime assignments due to safety concerns and staffing crisis in HCA facilities across the state.

The “Charge Against Employer” to the National Labor Relations Board states that HCA has neglected to provide requested information on safe staffing for patients and the care team and information on “sentinel” patient safety events that result in death, permanent harm, or severe temporary harm. 

Caregivers have requested the information during negotiations for a new contract that will help alleviate a critical staffing and care crisis especially at HCA hospitals that has placed patients, caregivers and the state’s entire healthcare system at risk.

HCA has failed or refused to comply with numerous requests for the information beginning in December 2022, according to the ULP filed on behalf of the caregivers by Miami-based attorney Kathleen M. Phillips, Esq. of Phillips, Richard & Rind, P.A.

In response to HCA’s actions, caregivers in a concerted activity will refuse voluntary overtime assignments between June 2 and June 7, and will continue to demand safe staffing levels, pay and other protections in upcoming contract bargaining sessions.

“HCA can’t run our hospitals without us volunteering to work overtime because of their understaffing,” said Donna Delia, a worker at HCA Florida Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, 1199SEIU union delegate and bargaining committee member.” It’s time we sent a message that we won’t be exploited or taken for granted anymore.”

 About 10,000 nurses, CNAs, technicians, dietary aides and other healthcare workers at 19 HCA facilities in Florida are represented in contract negotiations by the 199SEIU bargaining committee.

Worker surveys by 1199SEIU show that the median experience of HCA healthcare staff in the bargaining unit is only two years. Caregivers recently rallying across Florida called this a dangerous “revolving door” that is both a cause and effect of a spiraling staffing, retention and care crisis.

In addition to the rallies, 1199SIEU has joined numerous caregiver unions across the country in launching a national website in which the public can report their concerns about staffing and safety risks that they’ve experienced or witnessed at HCA facilities.  

Another survey of HCA caregivers found that about 80 percent of respondents in Florida and nationwide agree that “short staffing at my hospital is compromising patient care” and well over half report that they “feel forced to find a new job/profession due to short staffing and burnout.”

Experienced registered nurses and healthcare workers in Florida who have risked their lives to save others during the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving hospitals and other healthcare facilities because of low pay, disrespect and disregard for their lives.

HCA is the largest healthcare company in the nation and reported approximately $13 billion in profits and $120 billion in revenue combined in 2021 and 2022, yet a recent study shows the company operates with staffing levels about 30 percent lower than national industry averages.

‚Äč“HCA takes in billions of dollars each year with a CEO who made $30 million and can afford to make care for patients, caregivers and our communities a priority while still earning a fair profit,” said Joaquin Garcia, a radiology technician at HCA Florida Kendall Hospital.  “To help solve this crisis, we need HCA to respect us, protect us, pay us and staff us.”

              Members of 1199SEIU work at HCA facilities in the following Florida counties:

Miami-Dade County --  HCA Florida Kendall Hospital, HCA Florida Aventura Hospital.
Broward County --  HCA Florida Northwest Hospital, HCA Florida Woodmont Hospital, HCA Florida Westside Hospital and HCA Florida University Hospital.
Palm Beach County -- HCA Florida Palms West Hospital and HCA Florida JFK North Hospital.
Saint Lucie County -- HCA Florida  Saint Lucie Hospital.
Osceola County -- HCA Florida Osceola Hospital.
Seminole County -- HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital.
Charlotte County -- HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.

Sarasota County – HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital

Manatee County – HCA Florida Blake Hospital
Pinellas County -- HCA Florida Largo Hospital, HCA Florida Northside Hospital and HCA Florida Saint Petersburg Hospital.
Pasco County -- HCA Florida Trinity Hospital.
Hernando County -- HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital.

              For more information on 1199SEIU, visit:  www.1199seiu.org/florida.