Press Release

RNs to Begin Strike Friday at 5 East Bay Sutter Hospitals

As Nurses Call Off Walkout at San Leandro Hospital

Registered Nurses will begin a 7-day strike at five East Bay Sutter hospitals Friday protesting the corporation’s continuing demand for sweeping cuts in patient care protections and healthcare coverage for nurses and their families, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United said today.

The walkout will affect more than 3,100 RNs as well as respiratory, X-ray and other technicians at Alta Bates Summit facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, and Sutter Delta in Antioch. Additionally, a strike May 23 and 24 will affect 1,400 RNs at two HCA-affiliated San Jose hospitals, Good Samaritan and Regional Medical Center.

On Wednesday the RNs withdrew plans to strike San Leandro Hospital following an announcement late Tuesday that Alameda County has signed a letter of intent to assume ownership of that facility from Sutter and turn it into a publicly owned and operated facility.

The RNs called that development a welcome signal that the vital hospital will be preserved with its acute care services following years of uncertainty stemming from Sutter’s intent to close the hospital years ago and a long campaign by CNA and community leaders and residents to save San Leandro Hospital. Final transfer is expected this fall.

“This is truly a remarkable event,” said San Leandro RN Lisa LaFave.  “After a long struggle we are thrilled to know we can continue to care for our community. Lives will be saved.”

“CNA has been instrumental in our battle to preserve health care here in our community and through out the Bay Area. We are deeply indebted to their leadership and support. We look forward to a long and gratifying future,” LaFave said.

 Strike plans, however, continue at other Sutter hospitals, with picketing beginning at 7 a.m. Friday at the following facilities, including a big noon rally at the Alta Bates Summit hospital in Berkeley.  

  • Alta Bates Summit, Berkeley, 2450 Ashby, Berkeley. Rallies, Friday 12 noon; May 23 1 p.m. 
  • Alta Bates Summit, Herrick, 2001 Dwight, Berkeley
  • Alta Bates Summit, Oakland, 350 Hawthorne, Oakland. Rallies, Friday, Monday, 12 noon Eden Medical Center, 20103 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley.  Rally, Friday, 12 noon
  • Sutter Delta, Antioch, 3901 Lone Tree Way, Antioch. Rally, Friday, 12 noon

CNA notes that new collective bargaining agreements have been achieved for the RNs with a number of Bay Area Sutter hospitals in San Mateo, San Francisco, Sonoma, Marin, and Lake counties after those hospitals agreed to pull major concession demands. But, they noted, the hard line East Bay Sutter region continues to push for dozens of punishing contract cuts that the RNs say put patients at risk, and threaten to sharply erode living standards for nurses and their families.

At Alta Bates Summit facilities, 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.

"As nurses, we must hold true to our values by advocating for our profession, which at its core protects patients, not profits,” said Alta Bates Summit psychiatric RN Efren Garza.

San Jose RNs to strike May 23 and 24
Good Samaritan and Regional Medical Center in San Jose RNs are striking 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.

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 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.  

Sutter Fact Sheet
Key concession demands at various Sutter hospitals (partial list):

  • Eliminating paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
  • Eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work less than 30 hours per week and slashing the pay in lieu of benefits for all non-benefited nurses.
  • Huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage for themselves and family members.

Sutter does not need to make the cuts:

  • Sutter has accumulated nearly $4.2 billion in profits since 2005, according to its own audited financial statements.
  • Sutter is among the wealthiest hospital chains in the U.S. – and has the highest net patient revenue per employees among U.S. hospital systems, according to a Modern Healthcare survey
  • Sutter paid 28 top executives more than $1 million in compensation, an aggregate $46.7 million in 2010 alone, by far the most lavish spending on executives among all California hospital systems. Sutter East Bay Region President David Bradley’s 2011 compensation exceeded $1.6 million, a whopping 216 percent increase in four years.
  • Sutter is spending tens of millions of dollars on a questionable computerized electronic medical system, Epic Systems, the same controversial system that has been charged with putting patients at risk at Contra Costa County’s correctional facility