Enloe contract goes to vote

Union bargaining team says ‘No dice’ and urges strike authority instead

Service workers at Enloe Medical Center will vote next week (June 24 and 25) on a “last, best and final” contract offer from hospital management, but their United Healthcare Workers/SEIU negotiating team is recommending a “no” vote and calling for authorization of up to a four-day strike in protest of what lead negotiator Charlie Ridgell calls “an inferior offer.”

After more than 40 bargaining sessions, Enloe is offering a wage increase of 13 percent over three years and the same benefits package the unionized nurses receive, which includes full payment of the hospital’s in-house health-care “value plan.” A somewhat better optional plan would cost employees extra. The hospital is also offering workers a bonus (3 percent of last year’s salary) in return for a no-strike, no-protest promise for the life of the contract.

Ridgell said the wage offer was far too low, noting that even at its highest step it was lower than entry-level wages at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Red Bluff. He also decried the hospital’s inclusion of a clause allowing it to subcontract out services, as it had done with dietary and housekeeping workers.

Enloe’s vice president of human resources, Carol Linscheid, responded that the hospital’s wage offer was based on a survey of North State hospitals that included St. Elizabeth’s and other facilities requested by the union. Employees will get both across-the-board pay hikes as well as annual step increases, she said. “These people need a raise, and we want them to have a raise.”

The hospital has 659 service workers, including certified nurse aides, lab techs and others.