Perseverance and solidarity lead to a strong new contract at St. Rose Hospital

At St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Local 856 represents a wide range of over 350 health care workers who are committed to keeping their community healthy, including clerks, technicians, technologists, certified nursing assistants, cooks, data operators, environmental services aides, emergency room charge analysts, kitchen helpers, laundry aides, medical billing coordinators, medical secretaries, patient accounting representatives, porters, registrars, secretaries, transporters, licensed vocational nurses, and more.

Justin Kmetz is a Local 856 shop steward at St. Rose Hospital, as well as a radiology technological assistant.

St. Rose Hospital is a vital part of the Alameda County community. Hospital employees provide care for many under & uninsured individuals and families in the area. Every year, Teamsters 856 works to secure funding from the County to ensure the hospital’s doors stay open, and residents continue to have access to health care.

In 2017, Local 856 members began negotiating for their new contract with the hospital. And this April, after over a year full of negotiations meetings, presenting and scrutinizing contract proposals, and incredible solidarity, members at the hospital ratified a strong new contract that includes major improvements to their pay and benefits.

“In the beginning, the hospital stalled negotiations for several months,” said Matthew Mullany, the Local 856 representative who led negotiations. “Our members refused to quit and kept fighting. We were able to use the employer’s stalling to negotiate better wage increases and retroactive pay that the negotiations team worked really hard to secure.”

The members’ solidarity paid off. Some of the highlights from their new contract are a 16.5% wage increase over five years, retroactive back to 2017 plus a half percent bonus in 2020. The retroactivity also includes pay for any personal time off taken back to 2017. The contract also includes increases to the weekend, evening, and night shift differentials, as well as increases to training pay. On top of that, health and welfare contributions and members’ total maximum out of pockets health care costs have been reduced.

Maria Gamata was a member of the negotiations team. She’s also a lead technician in the St. Rose Hospital emergency department.

“The cost of living in the Bay Area is so high that people were having trouble paying their rent and paying for gas and food, so our biggest priority was wages,” said Justin Kmetz. Justin is a radiology technological assistant and shop steward at St. Rose Hospital as well as a member of the negotiations team. “In this contract, we were able to get everyone more in wage increases.”

Maria Gamata, a lead technician in the hospital’s emergency department, said that fighting for their contract brought the Local 856 members at St. Rose together. “It made us feel like a family because we were all in it together,” she said. “Now, it feels like we are a stronger team.”

Angela Romero is a lead x-ray technologist at St. Rose Hospital. She was also a member of the eight-person negotiations team, alongside Maria and Justin. She said that securing such a strong contract has given everyone a sense of relief that would have been impossible if they weren’t Teamsters 856 members.

Angela Romero is a lead x-ray technologist at St. Rose Hospital. She was also a member of the negotiations team.

“Without a union, management would have been able to do whatever they wanted,” she explained. “The raises we secured for everyone would have been impossible without union representation.”

Matthew agreed and added that the members’ hard work and solidarity reminded him what a union really is. “That’s the true nature of a union — sticking together and fighting hard,” he said.