OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of California registered nurses walked picket lines and joined rallies Thursday, part of a massive strike by 23,000 RNs at 34 hospitals in Northern and Central California.
The one-day strike by members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United sent a strong message to two of the biggest and most profitable hospital chains in the state, Sutter and Kaiser Permanente plus Children's Hospital Oakland.
At a boisterous rally at Sutter Alta Bates in Berkeley Thursday morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised the RNs as "the last line of defense for patients" and excoriated the corporate assault by Sutter. "They disrespect you by attacking your healthcare, your retirement benefits, your right to advocate for patients, and now they want to force you to work when you are sick. Having sick nurses care for sick patients is sick."
Trumka said it was 23,000 nurses taking a stand, but that they were joined by "millions of patients" and had the support of working people across the country.
"When nurses are on the outside, there's something wrong on the inside," said CNA Co-President DeAnn McEwen, RN at the rally. She called the sweeping concession demands by Sutter "drastic, unwarranted, and unconscionable. They're harming patients and we're standing in the gap."
CNA/NNU said the key issues are:
Sutter. RNs are protesting 200 sweeping demands by Sutter executives that would:
- Restrict their ability to effectively advocate for patients
- Effectively force nurses to work when sick, dangerously exposing extremely ill patients to infection.
- Sharply reduce nurses' healthcare coverage and retiree health benefits.
- The Sutter RNs are also protesting years of widespread cuts in patient care services
Sutter is making these demands and cutting services despite amassing $3.7 billion in profits the past half decade. Sutter pays 20 top executives more than $1 million in salaries.
Kaiser. RNs struck to support Kaiser co-workers who are facing management demands for deep cuts in their health coverage and retirement plans.
Children's Oakland. RNs are protesting management efforts to cut their health coverage, demands they say would make it prohibitively expensive for nurses to bring their own children to get care at the hospital where they work, and inadequate staffing at the hospital.
SOURCE National Nurses United