Press Release

Nurses Across the State Join Sutter RNs in Major Protest Monday at Summit Oakland

Call on Sutter to stop its war on nurses and patients, negotiate a fair contract

Registered nurses from hospitals throughout Northern California are gathering in force Monday to show their support for Sutter Health RNs contract fight. A rally is scheduled at noon at the Summit campus of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.

The protest, two days before the scheduled one-day strike on Wednesday is a call for the profitable hospital chain to withdraw the more than 100 sweeping concessions that would critically erode patient care conditions and RN professional standards. Sutter Health made nearly $4.2 billion in profits since 2005.

“Nurses at Sutter facilities are facing an unprecedented attack on their practice the scope of which we have not seen in over 20 years,” said Zenei Cortez, co-president of CNA/NNU. “Nurses everywhere are unifying to resist Sutter’s policies of unprecedented cuts in vital patient services for our communities and deterioration of patient care standards in our hospitals.  

What:    Nurses Protest Sutter  
When:    Monday, June 11, 2012, Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Where:    Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (Summit Campus)
350 Hawthorne Ave, Oakland, CA—In front of the main entrance

In the meantime, RNs at Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport reached a tentative agreement this week on a new collective bargaining contract that nurses say is the latest signal to Sutter Health corporate executives that an end to the broader dispute between nurses and the hospital chain can be achieved.
The key to the pact was the decision by hospital officials to withdraw all concession proposals, which is a significant contrast with other Sutter Bay Area hospitals. Lakeside also continues a trend of some Sutter hospitals that have decided to step back in demanding onerous reductions in contract standards. Earlier this year, officials at Sutter Santa Rosa reached agreement with CNA on a new agreement after that hospital cancelled concession demands. Last year, CNA won new contracts at two Sutter hospitals in the Sacramento region in Roseville and Auburn.
The strike on Wednesday affects 4,400 RNs, as well as hundreds of respiratory, X-ray and other technicians at the following hospitals:  three 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, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital.

Among the many concession demands at various Sutter hospitals:

  • 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 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 up to 100 miles for obstetrics care, while giving a $1 million gift to the Sacramento Kings.
  • Close pediatric, psychiatric, lactation, and transitional care services in Santa Rosa.