A group of One Medical employees is airing grievances and making moves to join Workers United, a Service Employees International Union affiliate. Here are seven things to know:
1) The employees work in phlebotomy, customer service, administration, front desk settings and assisting with the primary-care startup's virtual services. Workers United has identified more than 500 employees who potentially could become members based on their positions and is working in each of One Medical's markets to generate support for the union drive. One Medical operates in large urban areas like Atlanta, Boston, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Workers United declined to identify the employees who have pledged to join the union, nor would it disclose how many have signed on so far.
2) The employees are going public with a long list of complaints about One Medical. They say the company misleads people during the hiring process about the workload, complexity and level of responsibility they'll have. Workers charge they're then "pressured and intimidated into working past the limits of their own well-being," according to Richard Minter, a vice president at Workers United. One Medical responded by saying its leadership does not tolerate any such behavior by management.
3) Pay is an issue. Workers say they're "severely underpaid," often working for less than what's considered a living wage in their cities. They also say they were denied hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. One Medical said its entry-level pay is well above minimum wage. Although the company did not provide hazard pay during the pandemic, it said it took a number of precautions to keep employees safe.
4) The employees claim One Medical hires unlicensed phlebotomists who get only one day of training, even though they perform clinical procedures like injections and electrocardiograms. One Medical said the assertion is "entirely false," and that its phlebotomists must have the legally required skills and training.
5) The organizing committee notified One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin of their intent to unionize and asking that he formally recognize the bargaining unit in a letter dated June 28.
6) In a letter to employees two days later, Rubin said management did not believe it would be appropriate to recognize a union without everyone affected having the opportunity to participate in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
7) One Medical is a San Francisco-based primary-care provider for commercially insured patients that went public in early 2020. The startup charges $199 for annual memberships, in addition to billing patients' health insurers for specific services. The financial model is still unproven. One Medical's operating loss widened from almost $32 million on $177 million in revenue in 2017 (an 18% loss margin) to $71.4 million on $380 million in revenue in 2020 (a 19% loss margin). The company's revenue increasingly is derived less from providing medical care at its clinics and more from contracts with hospitals, businesses and schools where they offer on-site services. One Medical hoping to expand into the Medicare Advantage market with the proposed purchase of Iora Health for $2.1 billion in stock.