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Sutter RNs Strike – A protest against cuts that would set back nursing, care standards for decades

California Nurses Association Press Release Press Release, 11/16/12

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In contrast to other Sutter hospitals where decisions by management to withdraw concession demands led to rapid contract settlements with nurses

Registered nurses at eight Sutter corporation hospitals are on strike Tuesday, November 20 and Wednesday, November 21, to protest employer demands for sweeping cuts in nurses’ and patient care standards.

The strike affects 3,300 RNs and several hundred respiratory, X-ray and other technicians who work at Alta Bates Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Sutter Delta in Antioch, and Novato Community Hospital.

Sutter – An Ongoing Assault on Patient Care and Nurses’ Standards

For Sutter nurses, this is the latest protest over demands by Sutter corporate officials for sweeping reductions in patient care protections and nurses’ contract standards – despite being one of the wealthiest hospital chains in the U.S. Sutter has rolled up over $4.2 billion in profits since 2005 and pays 28 top executives more than $1 million in compensation, an aggregate $46.7 million in 2010 alone, by far the most lavish spending on executives among all California hospital systems.

At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center hospitals in Berkeley and Oakland, for example, management is insisting on elimination of paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
Sutter hospital officials are also demanding termination of all health coverage for nurses and techs who work less than 30 hours per work – which would end health benefits entirely for 435 RNs and 31 techs at Alta Bates and 100 RNs at Eden and San Leandro, a proposal nurses call unconscionable and immoral.

Other Sutter Hospitals Withdraw Concessions – and Reach Immediate Agreements with RNs

By contrast, officials at a number of Sutter hospitals, including Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo County Sutter Santa Rosa, Sutter Lakeside in Lakeport, Sutter VNA of Santa Cruz, Sutter Roseville and Sutter Auburn Faith have all reached agreement on new contracts with nurses after withdrawing concession demands.

At the biggest of those, Mills-Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, the agreement was made possible by the decision by local hospital officials to withdraw more than three dozen substantial reductions in patient care protections and nurses’ economic and contract standards, as well as improvements in safe staffing, the RNs said.

Mills-Peninsula RNs said they were especially pleased to see administrators abandon a proposal which would have forced RNs who are sick for more than a week to utilize a short term disability program that, when combined with state funded disability, would provide only a fraction of a nurse’s salary.  Sick leave and a slight variation of this short term disability proposal have been key sticking points at other Sutter hospitals, especially Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in the East Bay.
 
Among the many other cuts dropped by Mills-Peninsula management were demands for a number of reductions that affect RN compensation, limits in time off for medical and pregnancy leaves, and limiting staff nurse participation on hospital committees.

“The unity and determination of the Mills Peninsula RNs over the past 16 months has led to a tentative agreement and great victory,” said Genel Morgan, RN at the Peninsula campus.  “We prevailed with our solidarity and willingness to fight for our practice and our patients.”

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