SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 23,000 registered nurses at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals will hold a one-day strike Thursday, September 22, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.
The strike affects two of California's largest and most profitable hospital chains, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Children's Hospital Oakland.
A centerpiece of the strike at the Sutter hospitals is Sutter's unprecedented demands for some 200 sweeping cuts in patient care and nurses standards on top of months of widespread reductions in availability of patient care services, motivated by commercial concerns, throughout the greater Bay Area.
Kaiser RNs will engage in sympathy strike activity to support other frontline healthcare workers who face demands for significant cuts in health benefits, which follow a steady series of local service reductions Kaiser has been enforcing for nurses and patients in Northern and Central California.
For Children's Oakland RNs, it will mark their third strike over efforts by the hospital administration to limit healthcare coverage for nurses and their families.
"Nurses will not accept drastic, unwarranted, and unconscionable cuts that harm our communities, harm our colleagues, and harm our families," said CNA Co-president Deborah Burger, RN.
According to CNA/NNU Sutter wants to restrict the ability of many of its nurses to advocate for patients in making clinical assessments of staffing and other patient needs; force nurses to work when sick, exposing fragile patients and themselves to illness; subject nurses to arbitrary discipline based on benchmark budget goals; and sharply raise out-of-pocket costs by thousands of dollars for nurses and their families. All despite amassing $3.7 billion in profits the past six years.
"We staunchly refuse to be silenced on patient care protections," said Sharon Tobin, a 24-year RN at Sutter Mills-Peninsula in Burlingame. "A common theme throughout management's proposals is removing our presence on committees that address important patient care issues and nursing practices. As nurses, we speak up, and we insist on standards that safeguard our patients, but Sutter doesn't want to hear about anything that might cut into their huge profits."
Kaiser RNs will strike in sympathy and support for Kaiser social workers, optometrists, psychologists, and other frontline workers who are striking September 22 to protest substantial reductions in healthcare and retirement coverage.
Children's Oakland RNs have been in dispute with hospital managers for a year over hospital demands, especially increases in out-of-pocket healthcare costs they say are punitive and would make it prohibitively expensive for nurses to bring their own children to get care at the hospital where they work. The employer has also refused to address the safe staffing issues of charge nurses not having a patient assignment and providing break relief at times when it does not interfere with patient care needs in the professional judgment of the nurse.
SOURCE California Nurses Association/National Nurses United