San Jose Nurses Set Two-Day Strike May 23 to 24
East Bay Sutter RNs Also Set to Strike Beginning May 17
Registered Nurses at Good Samaritan and Regional Medical Center in San Jose have scheduled a two-day strike May 23 and May 24 to protest the refusal of hospital officials to move forward in efforts to end the contract dispute with nurses which centers in large part on proposed elimination of the nurses’ pension plan, and concerns about hospital staffing.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents over 1,400 RNs at the two HCA-affiliated hospitals. The strike will coincide with the final day of a seven-day walkout by RNs at East Bay Sutter hospitals where nurses are also protesting sweeping cuts in contract standards.
In San Jose, RNs say they have made numerous efforts to resolve differences with hospital officials while protecting existing contract standards. Instead of working to settle differences, they say, hospital officials have stalled and refused to move forward.
The RNs say the care they have provided for patients and the community made the hospitals the successful and very profitable institutions that they are, and that they are seeking to preserve standards while insuring that hospital profits are utilized to improve staffing.
Yet hospital officials continue to reject the nurses’ proposals for improvements in critical patient protections, such as sufficient staff for incoming patients and charge nurses available to coordinate care
Additionally, the nurses are protesting employer demands to eliminate guaranteed pensions for RNs as well as major cuts in health, dental, and vision care benefits, and wages they say are not competitive with other area hospitals which undermines the ability to recruit new RNs.
“We don’t want to strike but we are compelled to do this to maintain community standards,” Kat Olah, oncology nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital and a member of the RN bargaining team.
“Slashing our benefits is not going to draw and maintain experienced nurses who are committed to this community” Debbie Dennison, Surgical Services RN with over 20 years at Regional Medical Center. “It will result in more turnover and increased use of temporary staff and that will adversely affect the level of care the hospitals can provide.”
Sutter RN Walkout Nears
Meanwhile, RNs at Sutter hospitals in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are scheduled to begin their strike Friday, May 17.
They will protest continuing demands by the East Bay Sutter region for dozens of sweeping contract cuts that the RNs, members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, say put patients at risk, and threaten to sharply erode living standards for nurses and their families.
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 and 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 week – which would end health benefits entirely for 535 RNs and 31 techs and their families at the hospitals. Sutter has committed unfair labor practices, as documented by a number of complaints issued by the National Labor Relations Board charging Sutter with retaliation against nurses and a range of misconduct in abrogation of good faith bargaining.