FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 16, 2024
CONTACT: Jeff Rogers | firstname.lastname@example.org | 909-263-7230
Background information and documents including RN turnover numbers, unsafe staffing data, unfair labor practices charges filed by the union, and more here: www.reinstateprime9.com/
TONIGHT: Vigil and March to Reinstate “Prime 9” Nurses and Healthcare Workers Fired for Speaking Out About Unsafe Patient Care at St. Francis Medical Center
Candlelight vigil and march to Lynwood City Hall, where Lynwood City Council will pass resolution calling for reinstatement of the Prime 9—now represented in lawsuit against St. Francis and Prime Gloria Allred
LYNWOOD, CA – Only days before Christmas and after finalizing a new contract with registered nurses, Prime Healthcare fired four RNs and five other healthcare workers—now known as the #Prime9—from its hospital St. Francis Medical Center, in apparent retaliation for a peaceful rally on November 30 at Prime’s Ontario, CA headquarters. Prime alleges the workers trespassed when they presented documentation of unsafe staffing and a letter calling for hospital management to collaborate with them for solutions. Gloria Allred, famed social justice lawyer, announced at a live press conference on Friday morning that she’s taking up their case.
Tonight, the Prime 9 will gather with supporters for a brief candlelight vigil at 5 p.m., then march silently by candlelight to Lynwood City Hall, where, following testimony by the Prime 9, the Lynwood City Council will pass a resolution calling for St. Francis to reinstate these brave workers.
WHO: RNs and other frontline health care workers—including the Prime 9—with supporters
WHAT: Candlelight vigil followed by silent candlelit march to Lynwood City Hall
Prime 9 testimony to Lynwood City Council
Lynwood City Council to pass resolution calling for reinstatement of the Prime 9
WHEN: Tuesday, January 16
5 p.m. – Candlelight Vigil in Lynwood Natatorium parking lot
and Candlelit march from Natatorium to Lynwood City Hall
6 p.m. – Lynwood City Council meeting
WHERE: Lynwood Natatorium: 3770 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Lynwood, CA 90262
Lynwood City Hall: 11330 Bulliss Rd, Lynwood 90262
The registered nurse with perhaps the biggest target on his back among the four fired by Prime was Scott Byington, RN, a mobile critical care nurse at St. Francis, the president of the St. Francis Registered Nurses Association, and a bit of a media star during a joint strike by the SFRNA nurses and the technical and support staff represented by SEIU-UHW in late October. Scott had worked at St. Francis since 1995 and was an officer in his union since 1996. He was on the mobile critical care team that responded to emergencies throughout the hospital every day—a position that requires the best of the best. He stayed at St. Francis through bankruptcy and multiple ownership changes, always loyal to the community, his patients, and the health care team at the hospital. He never hesitated to call out St. Francis for its appalling and chronic unsafe staffing.
“They make short staffing a standard of care here and it’s just really sad for the community,” Scott said in October, on the eve of the strike.
“Prime owns these hospitals like St. Francis in communities of color, marginalized areas,” said Charmaine Morales, RN, UNAC/UHCP President. “They had passionate nurses and caregivers trying to be a voice for patients and Prime terminated them. They do not respect or value the health care profession. Those skill sets and years of experience are hard to replace. Anyone in LA could end up at St. Francis if we get into an accident on the freeway—it’s a Level II Trauma Center. Prime showed a blatant disregard to the community. It’s the most extreme offense they could commit against the health and safety of their own patients.”
The other four RNs fired include James Blankenship, RN; Arlene Nielsen, RN; and Maricela Garay-Barajas, RN, who all worked in the stroke and telemetry units. The other members of the Prime 9 include all five of the SEIU-UHW bargaining team—still in negotiations for a new contract.
UNAC/UHCP has filed unfair labor practice charges alleging retaliation for protected union activity against Prime with the National Labor Relations Board. They’ve also filed unfair termination grievances against the hospital under their union contract. SEIU-UHW too has filed ULP charges to protect their members fired by Prime.
St. Francis Medical Center is one of the busiest hospitals in Los Angeles County, with the only level II trauma, stroke, and STEMI center for many miles around. Prime Healthcare bought St. Francis through bankruptcy in 2020, termined 20% of the experienced RNs, cut RN pay by 12% and instituted a three-year wage freeze during the pandemic, even as workers throughout the hospital risked their lives every day with inadequate PPE.
RN turnover since Prime took control has shot up to more than 50%–more than double the national average (22.5% in 2022). Prime owns hospitals in fourteen states.
United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) represents more than 35,000 registered nurses and health care professionals in California and Hawaii, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners; hospital support and technical staff. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.