Press Release

Critical Court Hearing Friday on RNs Right to Strike for Patient Safety

For Immediate Release
June 17, 2010

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today blasted the state agency that oversees public employee relations for its active collusion with University of California hospital officials in seeking to suppress the democratic rights of registered nurses, and charged the UC hospital system with employing unfair market competition with other corporate hospital chains in its attacks on UC RNs. 

CNA’s statement came hours before a major hearing Friday morning in San Francisco Superior Court concerning the right of UC RNs to strike as their last resort to prod the medical centers to repair eroding patient care conditions in their hospitals.  The nurses postponed a planned one-day strike by 11,000 UC nurses June 10 following a temporary restraining order June 8 that was a prelude to this hearing.

Prior to the hearing, UC RNs, joined by nurse leaders from Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas will rally outside the courtroom in support of the rights of the RNs.

When:  Friday, June 16, 2010—     8:30 am:  Protest, 9:30 am: Hearing
Where: San Francisco Superior Court, 400 McAllister St.

In a statement today, CNA said it will argue that the Public Employees Relations Board, a Schwarzenegger administration-dominated agency that requested the injunction from the court, “has grossly exceeded its legal authority in intervening in active collusion with the UC administration to seek to block collective action by registered nurses on behalf of patients,” said CNA co-president Geri Jenkins, a UC San Diego RN. 

Though PERB should represent the public interest, “it has instead acted as an arm of the UC,” Jenkins noted. She cited PERB’s legal brief this week in which its attorneys wrote that “PERB is not free to resolve the factual disputes in CNA’s favor and against the University. Rather PERB must accept the University’s factual allegations as true.”

Further, CNA will charge that by using state agencies to blunt the collective rights of employees, the UC hospitals are engaging in unfair market competition.

“UC hospitals masquerade as purely institutions of higher learning while at the same time UC officials exploit the veneer of a university label to mask their behavior as a big, wealthy, corporate hospital chain,” said NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

While other hospital chains are required to comply with federal labor law, which includes the right to strike if needed, UC, with its partner PERB, “acts to unfairly bar that action. That not only restricts the democratic rights of the RNs but also impairs their ability to fully press the UC to correct the rampant patient care problems endemic throughout UC hospitals,” DeMoro noted.

In fact, UC is one of the four biggest hospital chains in California – and highly profitable. Last year alone, the five major UC medical centers accumulated more than $565 million in profits (net income), according to data the hospitals themselves submit to the statewide Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. 

“In every regard, from staffing patterns, to justifying high executive pay bonuses by comparing them to other hospital systems, UC behaves as a big corporate hospital chain, except that it demands, with the help of the Schwarzenegger administration, unfair and discriminatory favors, in its treatment of nurses and other employees,” DeMoro said.