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Nurses to Sutter: ‘We Won’t Back Down’

San Mateo Patch, 5/2/12

Nurses at Burlingame's Mills-Peninsula Medical Center joined those at eight other hospitals throughout the state in protest of Sutter Health.

By Miriam Finder

Nurses at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame marched outside the hospital Tuesday in protest of Sutter Health-proposed contract concession that nurses said would lead to reduced care for patients and heightened risks for nurses.

They joined nearly 4,500 nurses at eight Sutter hospitals striking throughout the state.

Nurses danced the Electric Slide and blasted Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” as they picketed along Trousdale Drive with signs demanding “No Cuts in Patient Services” and “RNs on Strike for Patient Care.”

“When the nurses are on the outside, there is something wrong on the inside,” said DeAnn McEwan a member of the California Nurses Association (CNA) Council of Presidents.

According to CNA, the concessions would reduce sick leave, force nurses to pay more for health coverage and impose cuts on part time nurses.

This is the third time in seven months nurses have protested during bargaining with Sutter. They said nursing standards are at risk, which would ultimately hurt patients.

“We have to protect our patients and we have to protect our profession,” said Mills-Peninsula RN Sharon Tobin. “In unity there is strength; in solidarity there is victory.”

However, Sutter officials countered that nurses earn an average of $136,000 per year, and that their requests for higher wages and free health care would significantly increase costs.

“Despite the generous pay and benefits we provide our nurses, the California Nurses Union demands new benefits that will increase the cost of health care for our patients,” read a post published by Sutter on its “CNA Negotiations” blog.

Nurses in Burlingame are also protesting moves to close specialized pediatric care, acute rehabilitation, dialysis and skilled nursing care services at Burlingame and San Mateo hospitals.

The nurses had agreed to call off the strike Monday is Sutter withdrew its concession demands, but the strike moved forward as planned.

Mills-Peninsula remained open during the strike, using the service of replacement staff with a five-day minimum contract. The staff will remain at the hospital through May 6.

-- Bay City News contributed to this report.

Original article.

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