Concord behavioral health RNs strike for first time

Submitted by ADonahue on
Four nurses side by side outside smiling

Nurses are seeking a fair first contract

By Michelle Morris

National Nurse Magazine - July | August | September 2023 Issue

Registered nurses at John Muir Behavioral Health Center in Concord, Calif. held a one-day strike on May 3 to protest the hospital management’s refusal to address demands for a fair contract with measures to improve recruitment and retention. California Nurses Association represents 78 nurses at the facility.

“John Muir has plenty of resources to provide quality care at its Behavioral Health Center, but is failing to uphold its moral duty to nurses, patients, and our community,” Amy Welsh-Ross, a RN in the chemical dependency unit at John Muir Behavioral Health Center, where nurses are in negotiations for their first collective bargaining agreement. “Their understaffing is resulting in unsafe assignments, new nurses working without proper support or training, and experienced nurses regularly leaving for better benefits and conditions elsewhere.”

John Muir Behavioral Health Center (JMBHC) nurses voted to join CNA in February 2021 and since the summer of 2021, have been in negotiations with JMBHC management, with little to no movement on key issues.

The RNs urge JMBHC management to invest in nursing staff and agree to a contract that ensures better recruitment and retention through:

  • Improved patient safety and stronger staffing measures, including education and training when nurses float to adjacent specialty units
  • Competitive benefits with other hospitals in the Bay Area

“We continue to see an increase in our community’s need for behavioral health services for both adults and children,” Megan LaCorte, a RN in the adult behavioral health unit. “We need John Muir to staff up and come ready to settle a contract that will help us retain good nurses who can be strong patient advocates.”

Michelle Morris is a communications specialist at National Nurses United.