Press Release

Soon-to-Strike Nurses Applaud Mayor Gray’s Support

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2011
Mayor Demands “Fairness” for Nurses In Calls with MedStar CEO
City Council Also Demands that MedStar Resolve Situation

More than 1,600 nurses from Washington Hospital Center (WHC) are preparing to go on strike this Friday—and are thanking D.C. Mayor Vince Gray for his support, National Nurses United reports today.
In a press conference today, the Mayor announced he had spoken with MedStar Health’s CEO Ken Samet, and urged him to resolve the labor dispute prior to the strike.  "We want to see people treated fairly," said Gray.
Nurses from the hospital briefed the mayor’s staff today.  "We just want to do the nursing," said Alicia Rucker, RN, a member of the union’s bargaining team, "but until all the units are fully staffed, we can't do our jobs properly. We have to be sharp; we save lives, while MedStar (which owns Washington Hospital Center) sits on billions of dollars."
A central demand of the nurses is that Washington Hospital Center agree to a safe nurse staffing plan, respect the nurses’ collective voice on patient safety issues, and ensure that nursing standards are not eroded at the facility.  MedStar’s own internal surveys show employees and physicians are concerned about poor patient safety.
The Mayor’s support for the nurses follows last week’s letter from ten City Council members calling on MedStar to reach agreement with its nurses.  “We are deeply concerned that the dispute between the Washington Hospital Center and National Nurses United continues without resolution,” the letter stated.  “These (patient safety) issues of course have an impact on the hospital’s ability to attract and retain qualified and experienced nurses,” the Council members wrote.  “It was disturbing to hear that the turnover rate of nurses at the hospital has exceeded 13% annually for the past six years.”
The nurses will walk out of the hospital Friday, March 4 at 7:00 a.m., and hold a major rally at 12 noon that day featuring AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka as well as community leaders and allies.  Nurses will be available to the media Thursday evening before the strike.