Teamsters 856 members speak out at public hearing

Workers at Marin General Hospital testify about unfair and unsafe working conditions

In May, on a sunny day in San Rafael, Teamsters 856 members bravely shed light on unfair and unsafe practices at Marin General Hospital (MGH). During a Workers’ Rights Board Hearing held by North Bay Jobs With Justice, members testified that their working conditions negatively impact their ability to care for their patients.

“It’s important for our members to speak out,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer Peter Finn. “They are not just standing up for their own working conditions. They are standing up for the members of the Marin County community who expect and deserve a high level of care from the Hospital.”

The North Bay Jobs With Justice Workers’ Rights Board

Alongside registered nurses, radiology technologists, and other Hospital employees, Teamsters 856 members testified about management’s decision to understaff vital units such as the ICU, the CSU (cardiac), and surgical.

“I’ve seen first-hand how inadequate staffing impacts patient safety and care,” wrote one CNA at MGH, in testimony he submitted to the Board. “With increased patient census, we are sometimes caring for as many as 15 patients at one time. This makes it very difficult to complete our rounds, answer call lights in a timely fashion, and respond to patient needs.”

Members alleged that MGH management’s shift in priorities – placing the bottom line above patient care was harmful to both patients and staff. For example, decisions, such as automating work that is currently done by qualified, trained employees reduces the number of workers in units that are already short staffed, and can decrease patient safety precautions.

“The Hospital stated to us that it wants to implement the kiosks and Kiosk Coordinators to save time and allow patients to register more quickly,” said one Teamsters 856 member who works as a patient admitting representative. “The reduction in Union benefitted staff members will actually increase wait times for patients, as those patients will still need to see a patient admitting representative to obtain the wrist band.”

According to the member, she and her colleagues currently verify patient demographic information and that the patient is there for the correct procedure, before providing them with a wristband – ensuring the patient’s safety.

Matthew Mullany, a Teamsters 856 Rep. at MGH

Teamsters 856 Rep. Matthew Mullany has represented workers at MGH for over 10 years. He’s also represented other health care workers in his time as a Teamster, and testified that the situation at Marin is unlike any he’s ever encountered. “I’ve never seen workers with such low morale and management that acts with such disregard for our contract and with such disregard for the employees,” he said.

Another Teamsters 856 Rep., Tim Jenkins, provided his strategic research on MGH. He stated that the number of deficiencies and penalties at MGH has increased since leadership changed hands from Sutter to Marin General’s current management.

The Workers’ Rights Board, which included elected, faith, and community leaders heard all of the testimony, including employee’s first-hand accounts and union staff research, and returned with their preliminary findings. The findings, which were also sent to Marin General CEO Lee Domanico for his response, encouraged MGH management to take action and work with staff to recreate and foster a hospital environment that’s good for both employees and patients. Read more about the preliminary findings here.

Teamsters 856 will keep members up-to-date on the latest at MGH, including the Workers’ Rights Board final findings, which are expected to be released this month.