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Bay Area Sutter Nurses Set Next Strike – July 3

Press Release, 6/25/12

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Sutter Management Negotiators Disavow Corporate Claims in Ads

With Sutter corporate officials continuing to demand sweeping reductions in nurses contract standards, including proposals that could harm patients, Bay Area Sutter registered nurses are preparing for a new one-day strike on Tuesday, July 3, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United said today

This strike will focus on seven immediate Bay Area Sutter facilities – 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. The strike will involve about 3,500 RNs as well as several hundred respiratory, X-ray and other technicians.

Sutter continues to insist on more than 100 widespread, unwarranted reductions despite rolling up nearly $4.2 billion in profits since 2005. Among the many proposed takeaways are eliminating paid sick leave which would effectively force RNs to work when ill, dangerously exposing patients with compromised immune systems to further infection, as well as huge increases in nurses’ out of pocket costs for their own health coverage.

“It has become necessary to strike again as Sutter has dug in their heels and refused to negotiate on any issue on the table,” said Alta Bates Summit RN Mike Hill. “They have said they want every takeaway proposed without exception despite record profits and executive salaries. This stance is unacceptable for our nurses, our communities and our patients.”

“Hopefully Sutter will understand by this action that it is time to actually negotiate, respect the nurses and stop the greed that has become so intertwined with Sutter’s image,” Hill said.

Alta Bates RNs plan to attend the Tuesday meeting of the Berkeley City Council to protest Alta Bates harassment of nurses.

 

Sutter negotiators on corporate lies in ads:  “What does it matter?”

While Sutter officials have continued to hold to their hard line since the last strike earlier this month, nurses note one interesting development in talks.

Negotiators for both Alta Bates Summit and Eden-San Leandro officials both disavowed claims about Sutter RNs made by Sutter in ads run in local news media and repeated in talking points by Sutter press representatives. “What does it matter?” an Alta Bates hospital official said in dismissing ad claims about nurses’ pay.

Sutter RNs will also continue to protest the corporation’s ongoing cuts and closures in patient services it deems not profitable enough despite the company’s huge wealth, and are also objecting to Sutter’s poor record in providing charity care.

CNA representatives will speak about the issue as one of the themes in a San Francisco hearing today on Sutter’s plan for a massive Cathedral Hill project in San Francisco.

Sutter, and CPMC, in particular, are among the biggest abusers of delivery of charity care, CNA has charged. And it’s not just the nurses making that charge. A report by the University of  California Hastings College of Law found that Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center is San Francisco’s most profitable non-profit hospital yet spends far less proportionately on charity care than the city’s other private non-profit hospitals.

East Bay RNs on Friday participated in a town hall meeting in San Leandro on the topic of charity care. Without common standards in California some hospitals routinely inflate charges for hospital care, especially for uninsured patients, then write off as “charity care” whatever they do not collect from the patient. “Our communities could benefit from the tax revenue that Sutter Health and other hospital chains avoid.  It’s time to investigate hospital “non-profit” tax status,” said San Leandro RN Carol Barazi.   

Concession demands at various Sutter hospitals (partial list):

  • Eliminating paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
  • Forcing RNs to work in hospital areas for which they do not have appropriate clinical expertise, again a safety risk for patients.
  • Huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage for themselves and family members.
  • Limits on the ability of charge nurses, who make clinical assignments for nurses, to address staffing shortages, subjecting patients to the danger of unsafe staffing.
  • Forcing RNs to work overtime, exposing patients to care from fatigued nurses who are more prone to making medical errors.
  • Eliminating retiree health plans.
  • Eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work less than 30 hours per week.
  • Reduced pregnancy and family medical leave, undermining RN families.

 

Sutter’s record of abandoning communities and patients (partial list):

  • End breast cancer screening for women with disabilities and most bone marrow transplant services for cancer patients at Alta Bates Summit in Oakland and Berkeley.
  • Stop providing psychiatric services under contract with Sacramento County for more than 225 Sacramento children.
  • Close specialized pediatric care, acute rehabilitation, dialysis, and skilled nursing care services at Mills and Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo.
  • Close home health services and limit acute-care hospital stays in Lakeport.
  • Close acute rehabilitation services, skilled nursing care, and psychiatric services, and substantially downgrade nursery care for sick children at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.
  • Sharply cut psychiatric care at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.
  • Close a birthing center at Sutter Auburn Faith, forcing new mothers and families to travel a very long dist for obstetrics care, while giving a $1 million gift to the Sacramento Kings.
  • Close pediatric, psychiatric, lactation, and transitional care services in Santa Rosa.

 

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