Healthcare workers protest near Mercy Hospital Southwest Tuesday as they demand better wages, benefits and more from Dignity Health prior to its merger with Catholic Health Initiatives.

More than 15,000 Dignity Health workers in California signed a five-year contract with their employer this month that included 13 percent raises over five years, ending speculation from employees that the merger between Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives would lead to diminished pay and benefits.

The resolution comes after Dignity Health employees, including some in Bakersfield, staged protests last month over concerns that the interests of patients would be ignored after the two companies merged into a $28 billion corporation.

“Our new contract maintains employer-paid family healthcare and provides rising wages, and that security and peace of mind enables us to focus on caring for our patients,” said Dennis Anderson, a laboratory assistant at Mercy Hospital in Folsom, which is owned by Dignity Health. “All frontline caregivers should have strong wages and benefits because of the crucial role we play in delivering quality patient care, and we urge all hospitals to make a greater investment in caregivers, just as Dignity Health is doing with this agreement.” 

Members of the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West will maintain fully-paid, employer-provided family healthcare, which union officials called a “key point of contention” in negotiations. Workers will receive 13-percent raises spread over five years, a one percent bonus in the second year, and will maintain defined benefit pensions. 

Dignity Health will also contribute $500,000 annually to a joint labor-management training program to help workers stay up-to-date with the changing healthcare environment to advance their careers, SEIU officials said.

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