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San Jose, Good Samaritan Hospital RNs Ready to Strike to Stop Erosion in Patient Care Standards

CNA Press Release Press Release, 10/19/12

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Registered nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital and Regional Medical Center in San Jose have authorized a strike, if necessary, to protest hospital management demands they say will erode patient care and RN contract standards that will also undermine the ability of the hospital to recruit new RNs and have adverse effects on the San Jose community.
 
In membership meetings this week, the RNs voted to authorize their nurse bargaining team to call a strike, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) announced today.  No strike date has been set at this time.
 
The RNs at Good Samaritan and Regional Medical Center of San Jose have been in bargaining for a new contract for several months. Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement for the 1,500 RNs represented by CNA/NNU have been underway for about half a year. The current contract, which expired on June 30, has since been extended to October 30..
 
Good Samaritan and Regional Medical Center are affiliates of HCA, Hospital Corporation of America, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital system.
“The nurses are fed up, and the large turnout of RNs, many of whom even came in on their day off to cast a ballot, demonstrates just how concerned we are about our work environment,” said Malinda Markowitz, RN, a Good Samaritan nurse who is also a member of the nurse negotiating team, and a CNA co-president.

“We are rejecting management proposals that will reduce patient care protections and eliminate the nurses’ retirement security. We believe this would put us below the community standard for area hospitals’ and given our hospitals financial well being is shortsighted, Markowitz said.

Among the outstanding issues:
 
Safe RN-to-patient staffing ratios
RNs want staffing to include coverage that maintains ratios consistent with court decision “at all times”. The nurses cite missing breaks due to lack of staffing and want the ratios written into their contract to ensure compliance.
 
Designated charge nurse on every unit free of patient care assignment to allow full coordination of patient needs
Currently charge nurses are doing break and meal relief for nurses on their unit for half the shift. The charge nurse must be free of a patient care assignment and have a comprehensive view of the flow and condition of all patients in and out of the unit in order to determine staffing needs. The RNs believe that a charge nurse cannot adequately coordinate care properly while also doing break relief.

Trained lift teams at all times to safely move and transport patients without harm or injury to nurses 
The nurses propose to incorporate the Safe Lift Team Law, AB1136 into the  contract that requires providing equipment and training. There are currently no designated lift teams and nurses report not having equipment available when needed.  According to national studies, nurses, who are often lifting large patients without proper assistance, incur more back and neck injuries than truck drivers.
 
Huge cuts in RN retirement security
Close to 1,500 RNs would lose their defined pension plan under the hospital proposal, a severe and unwarranted cut that the nurses say shows disrespect for the years of service many San Jose nurses have given to their community and the

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