One-Day Nursing Strikes Loom at Several Calif. Hospitals This Week

Thousands of nurses are planning a walkout Thursday at several California hospitals over contract disputes and other workplace issues, the Oakland Tribune reports (Woodall, Oakland Tribune, 12/20).

Sutter Health Strike Details

One strike could involve up to 4,000 registered nurses represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. The strike is planned at eight Sutter Health facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area (Vives, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/19).  The walkout is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Thursday and end 24 hours later (Oakland Tribune, 12/20).

The union and the hospitals have been in negotiations for most of the year (California Healthline, 12/12). Union members have said that their sick time and other health care benefits could be eliminated ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/19). 

Carolyn Kemp -- a spokesperson for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, one of the facilities involved in the possible strike -- said nurses are not negotiating in good faith. According to the hospital, the nurses have received a 22% salary increase over the last three years.

Both sides said they hope they can reach an agreement by Thursday to avoid the strike (Oakland Tribune, 12/20).

Separate Strike Details

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 CNA nurses also are planning a one-day walkout at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and its affiliated Miller Children's Hospital ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/19). The facilities are not operated by Sutter (California Healthline, 12/12).

Nurses and hospital management at these facilities have been in contract negotiations since July, and their last contract expired Sept. 30 (Robes Meeks, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 12/20).

According to the union, there are not enough staff to maintain minimum safety standards under state law, and union members often work through breaks and lunches. The union also has argued that there is not a safe patient lift policy in place. In addition, the union has argued that nurses face an increase in benefit contributions.

Hospital management also said that they have complied with state standards and that the hospitals are sufficiently staffed to offer meal and break coverage. Officials added that they have set up lift teams while awaiting final state regulations ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 12/19).

Hospital officials said that they have signed a five-day contract for replacement nurses and that full services will be available for patients (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 12/20).

James Roache PharmD
Parity with the private sector has long ago been established for nurses. What is the purpose of this "profession" being represented by a union any further other than to extort more pay and more benefits to, in this case, the determent of the patients to whom their care is charged? When is enough, enough? Name one other healthcare profession that has seen a 22% salary increase over the past three years. Its time these folks wake up to the new era of healthcare by "doing more with less" just like the rest of us and stop using extortion as a way for forcing "value" on the hospitals.

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