Press Release

RNs Offer to Postpone Strike if Sutter Pulls Concession Demands

Media Advisory
December 19, 2011
Nurses: End Bid for Unwarranted Cuts in Patient Care, RN Standards

Registered Nurses today offered to postpone a scheduled one-day strike against eight Sutter hospitals Thursday if Sutter officials agree to withdraw major concessions they are demanding, and work toward achieving a fair contract settlement with the RNs.

Nurses made the proposal across the bargaining table where contract talks were continuing with officials of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. The proposal, officially presented to a Sutter corporate attorney, would affect all the Sutter hospitals where a strike is scheduled to be held Thursday.

“After 29 bargaining sessions management still insists on massive takeaways that will affect every nurse in the hospital to the detriment of patient care,” said ABSMC RN Millie Borland.

At present 4,000 Sutter RNs are prepared to strike Thursday at Alta Bates campuses in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula hospital campuses in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center facilities in Castro Valley and San Leandro, Sutter Delta in Antioch, and Sutter Solano in Vallejo. An additional 2,000 RNs are also scheduled to strike Thursday in Long Beach, over similar issues.

If the strike goes forward, the RNs will have a patient protection task force available at each facility to assist in the event of a genuine patient care emergency inside the hospitals. Each hospital received 10 days advance notice to postpone elective surgeries, transfer out any patients as needed, and make other preparations.

Sutter’s demands for some 150 unwarranted contract takeaways in patient care protections and out of pocket healthcare costs for health coverage for nurses and their families are at the heart of the dispute. Just last week, nurses at a smaller, former Sutter hospital, Marin General, did reach a contract agreement with hospital officials after that hospital agreed to withdraw similar proposed concessions.

Sutter, a far wealthier system than Marin, is demanding contract takeaways that, at Alta Bates, for example, would undermine RNs’ ability to effectively advocate for patients against the budget-focused priorities of Sutter managers and effectively force nurses to work when sick, dangerously exposing extremely ill patients to infection.

Additionally, Sutter RNs oppose management’s bid to reduce nurses’ healthcare coverage, with huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage, elimination of health benefits for part-time RNs, and other cuts that would result in thousands of dollars in economic loss for RNs.

This would be the second work stoppage at the Sutter hospitals following a one-day strike in September that was also prompted by demands for major contract concessions made by the hospital giant despite amassing over $3.7 billion in profits since 2005. Sutter’s wealth is also represented by over $11 billion it sits on presently in assets, and pay packages of over $1 million to each of 20 top corporate executives.