Workers at Fresenius Kidney Care Riverside strike outside of the facility.
Workers at Fresenius Kidney Care Riverside picket outside of the facility during a two-day strike. (Courtesy of SEIU-UHW)

Caregivers at Fresenius Kidney Care Riverside joined more than 500 other dialysis care workers for a two-day strike last week over what they said are unfair labor practices by Satellite Healthcare and Fresenius Kidney Care clinics across the state.

“We got a lot of threats from our company when they got wind that we were going union to begin with a few months back,” Toni Mendoza, a charge nurse at Fresenius, said. “Now that we are union, we have sat down at the table twice — next month will be the third one — and we sat down at the table this last time…they failed to bargain fairly. They did not want to address any of our concerns.”

Mendoza said the staff at Fresenius unionized earlier this year and was currently negotiating its first-ever contract with the company in hopes of improving working conditions at the facility, leading to better outcomes for patients.

“Our main concern is our staffing shortage,” she said. “For many years, we have been chronically short-staffed and underpaid for the care that we give our patients. ”

According to SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), the union representing the healthcare workers, Fresenius Medical Care made nearly $710 million in profits and paid its CEO approximately $5 million in compensation last year. Meanwhile, caregivers at these facilities make as little as $17 per hour and routinely hold two or more jobs to make ends meet.

“We’re providing humans with life sustaining treatment, so we should be compensated for the work we give,” Mendoza said. “We have a skill, and we’re not being compensated, we’re not being paid what we deserve.”

Mendoza said the low wages paid by Fresenius contribute to the staffing problems at the clinic, with new hires routinely leaving shortly after starting in search of higher wages.

“We know that if they can pay healthcare workers what we deserve, then we’ll be able to get better staff and that’ll help manage this staffing crisis,” she said.

Representatives for Fresenius Health did not respond to a request for comment.

Striking workers included registered nurses, patient care technicians, licensed vocational nurses, certified clinical hemodialysis technicians, dietitians, social workers, clinical administrative coordinators, and receptionists. Mendoza said Fresenius responded to the two-day strike by flying in healthcare workers from out of state.

“Just think about how much they had to pay for flights, hotel rooms, meal stipends, and then we heard that they were paying everywhere from $75-$118 an hour for these people,” she said. “And here we are, working for this company, we’ve given a lot of dedication to this company asking for fair wages and they’re telling us it’s not in the budget, and here they’re able to pay people on a whim way more than what we were even asking for.”

Mendoza said she heard from patients that despite giving Fresenius notice 10 days before the strike, the clinic was severely understaffed and patient care was negatively impacted with one patient who said his caregiver tried to cut his treatment short.

According to SEIU-UHW, healthcare workers at dialysis centers across the state will continue to strike into the month of October. As for those at Fresenius Kidney Care Riverside, they are set to return to the bargaining table later this month.

“We need to make sure we are able to keep our patients safe,” Mendoza said. “We need to protect our licenses and we deserve better wages.”

TN News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet providing Riverside County with high-quality journalism free of charge. We’re able to do this because of the generous donations of supporters like you!

Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

2 replies on “Fresenius Kidney Care Riverside Workers Strike Over Alleged Unfair Labor Practices”

Comments are closed.