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Series of Nurse Strikes Continues at Community Hospital

Negotiations between Sutter Health and union aren't moving along well enough, nurses say.

About 4,400 registered nurses at 10 hospitals in the Bay Area managed by Sutter Health — including — were planning a one-day strike Wednesday to protest concessions that they say Sutter management is demanding.

The strike is the latest in a by members of the California Nurses Association over contracts that have been under negotiation for about a year. The most recent strike was on May 1.

Sutter spokeswoman Karen Garner said that as it has done in previous strikes, Sutter will bring in replacement nurses to ensure that it maintains a full staff that can offer the same level of service to its patients.

She said that although the nurses only plan to strike for 24 hours, Sutter has hired replacements for multiple days of work because most replacement nurses have contracts that require them to work for multiple days. Novato Community Hospital spokeswoman Mary Strebig said substitutes will work through 6:59 a.m. Monday.

Union spokeswoman Liz Jacobs said nurses will engage in the strike to protest concessions demanded by management such as eliminating paid sick days, requiring nurses to pay for health care for themselves and their families and eliminating retiree health plans.

However, Garner said nurses are highly paid, earning an average of $136,000 per year, but union leaders "want double-digit wage increases and free health care for life, which will increase costs at our hospitals by tens of millions of dollars each year."

Garner said, "We will continue to offer competitive wages and benefits but will reject unreasonable demands that unnecessarily increase costs."

Jacobs said nurses are engaging in a one-day strike again "because there's been absolutely no movement in bargaining by the hospital."

She said, "We've made compromises but Sutter hasn't."

Jacobs said the one-day walkout will occur at Novato Community Hospital, three Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

— Bay City News Service

For coverage by the on this strike, click here.           

Sam Roth June 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I work at Alta bates Summit in Oakland. Nobody is asking for double digit wage increases or free health care for life. That is hogwash! The union offer was to keep the existing contract with an increase tied the the cost of living. Sutter rejected that and wants major give backs including elimination of sick time, reduction in vacation time, elimination of seniority system. the least onerous of their proposals is a 2 yr wage freeze, which the employees would accept. They are using Obamacare as the excuse for their demand but continue to pay their execs multimillion salaries.
Cherlyn Zita June 14, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Where do you get 84,000 dollars a year Mary? Please enlighten me. Lets see the figures to back that comment up. I'd also like to meet the nurse who makes 250,000 dollars. Could it be the CNO?
Nancy Samuels June 14, 2012 at 02:33 AM
This is NOT about increases in pay or benefits. This is about stopping takeaways we have earned over time! I have been a RN for over 20 years at NCH and have yet to earn a six figure salary!!! Nancy Samuels
Mary McDonough June 14, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Dear Mary and Jim, I have been a nurse for over twenty years and I no of no one making 250,000 a year with the exception of the chief nursing officers who are part of the SUtter management team. The nurses are the people taking care and looking out for the needs of the patients. They are the first line of defense against the SUtter machine who will send you out of the hospital when they are no longer making a profit. Nurses protect and advocate for the patient regardless of the bottom line or the harassment they receive from management to just get the patient out. Nurses deserve sick days, they are exposed to every kind of infection daily. Do you want the nurses to come into work sick and compromise the health and safety of the patients.
Janet Urman June 18, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Mary Strebig may be correct in stating that a full time RN may be able to make 136,000/year...the problem with this example is that at the time of this strike there were no full time RNs! Nor are there any full time positions posted! According to the public tax records (990s) in 2009, the CAO was making over 500,00/yr in compensation...think she has taken a pay cut since then?

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