Power in Numbers: Workers at Bear Valley Community Hospital Join Teamsters Union


Hospital Workers Unionize for Better Job Protections, Higher Wages and Benefits

(BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif.) — On February 1, Teamsters Local 1932 received voluntary recognition for emergency room clerks at Bear Valley Community Hospital. Previously, in November 2021, Local 1932 secured recognition for other groups within the facility, including medical imaging, respiratory therapists, surgical technicians, nursing staff coordinators, phlebotomists and emergency room technicians.

“The goal of getting a union is to feel protected at work and tonot have to fight all the time to keep our jobs,” said Rebecca Romero, an ER clerk who participated in the organizing effort. ”As Teamsters, we will have job security and a real voice in the workplace.” 

Before unionizing, Romero said that she and her co-workers had to “fight individually” against low pay without worker protections at the hospital, with no due process against unwarranted punishments. 

“There was not a whole lot of accountability for management. And for those of us that were not managed when we, we just felt like we were being slighted all the time,” Romero said. “Now, we have the power in numbers to make work as fun, safe and enjoyable as possible.”

Bear Valley Community Hospital is the only hospital in Big Bear Lake, a small city of 5,000 people nestled in the mountains of San Bernardino, most known for its ski resorts and large recreational areas. Without the hard work of Bear Valley Teamsters, would-be patients would have to trek down long winding mountains roads to the nearest hospital. The critical role that workers at Bear Valley Community Hospital provide to the community, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic—and the lack of recognition from hospital administrators for their contributions—were leading factors for the unionization effort.

“My line of reason with co-workers who were on the fence was: We can make things better by at least doing something — unionizing — so that we’re not just taking whatever they give us,” said Bill Page, a Bear Valley Community Hospital worker in medical imaging. “We knew we couldn’t just sit on the sidelines.”

Page, who has a 40-year career working in healthcare, said he was inspired to organize with the first groups in November 2021, noting that organizing progressed once people understood that they had to stand up for one another. 

“By forming a union with the Teamsters union, these workers are showing that workers across the Inland Empire can make a difference when they stand together. Now, they have the strength to right the wrongs of the past and move forward for a brighter tomorrow,” said Local 1932 Secretary-Treasurer Randy Korgan. “I want to congratulate this dedicated group of workers for standing together to improve their lives, the lives of their families and the health of their community.”

Founded in 2015, Teamsters Local 1932 comprises over 14,000 working people in public and private sectors across the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino.