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National Nurse Protest in Support of Univ. of Calif. RNs’ Right to Strike for Patient Safety

Press Release Press Release, 6/16/10

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For Immediate Release
June 16, 2010

Registered nurses from throughout California and the nation will join their University of California Medical Center colleagues Friday to protest UC’s attempt to silence nurses by blocking their right to strike for patient safety. In recent weeks, thousands of registered nurses across the country fighting for safe patient staffing have taken similar actions.

The protest will be followed by a hearing in San Francisco Superior Court on a planned one-day strike by 11,000 University of California RNs. Last week, a Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against the strike, acting on a request from the University of California and a state labor relations agency whose members are appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, long an adversary of California nurses. 

“With more RNs from coast to coast taking action to protest unsafe conditions, employers around the country are trying to silence nurses who speak up for better patient care,” said Geri Jenkins, RN, Co-President of California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. “This is a dangerous precedent. With more hospitals under staffing and putting patients at risk, we need to protect the democratic right of RNs to strike as a last resort to protect our patients.”

RNs in Pennsylvania recently went on strike after Temple University Hospital tried to institute a gag rule to prevent public criticism of staffing conditions at the hospital. They fought back and won.  In Minnesota, 12,000 RNs held a one-day strike last week to emphasize the need for improved patient staffing.

NATIONAL NURSE PROTEST and Court Hearing

When:    Friday, June 16, 2010 - 
               Protest  at 8:30 a.m., Hearing at  9:30 a.m.
Where:  San Francisco Superior Court, 400 McAllister St.

UC RNs say they are compelled to strike as a last resort following the refusal of UC hospital officials to improve staffing conditions at the high-profile hospitals, despite multiple efforts by nurses in the facilities, and in months of contract talks and a fact finding process.  Staffing at UC hospitals often violates state law, the RNs say citing UC’s own documents, which requires that hospitals have specific, minimum nurse-to-patient ratios on each unit, with more nurses added if needed based on how sick patients are.

RNs voted to strike only after exhausting all alternatives. The University has rejected the recommendations of a neutral fact finder chosen jointly by UC and CNA, refused to work with the RN Professional Practice Committees to fix the staffing problems for more than two years, ignored pleas from the California state legislature to resolve the staffing problems, and deliberately delayed and cancelled arbitrations scheduled to resolve patient care issues. CNA and the UC RNs have also filed numerous complaints with state regulatory agencies.

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