Santa Monica RNs Plan June 13 Walkout
Registered nurses at Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica will hold a one-day strike Wednesday June 13, to protest what they see as stalling by hospital officials in reaching a fair negotiated agreement for the RNs that would enhance patient safety and help retain experienced RNs at the hospital.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents some 500 RNs at Saint John’s who voted last May to join CNA, and began bargaining for their first contract September 8. The hospital has taken a hard line on some key issues that nurses say undermine the quality of care and improving standards for RNs. Management walked out of the parties’ June 5 bargaining session after 15 minutes, refusing to move on a single issue.
What: One-Day Strike by Saint John’s Health Center RNs
When: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 picketing from 7:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Where: St. Johns Health Center 2121 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA
A key issue in the dispute is safe staffing. Under California law, all acute care hospitals are required to meet minimum staffing ratio requirements for the number of patients per RN. Most CNA hospitals have agreed to include RN ratios in the collective bargaining contract. Saint John’s proposal would substitute less-skilled licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) for RNs in the ratios, making it the only acute care facility in Southern California to do so.
"Research shows increased patient deaths when the number of RNs in the staffing ratio is reduced," said Saint John's Pre-Op RN Christine Busch. "The nurses’ proposal is to have only RNs counted in the ratios at all times, and we don't intend to go back to the bad old days on this."
The other key issue centers on fairness in wages and benefits. Saint John’s pays nurses substantially below what RNs earn in other nearby CNA-represented hospitals, and there is no consistency— nurses with 25 to 30 years of experience are often paid less than some new hires. As a result, retention of experienced nurses is dangerously low.
"We're fighting for basic fairness here," said Saint John's Medical/Surgical RN Jack Cline. "They gave their CEO a 32 percent raise to $870,000, but they cut the vacations of new hires and want to cut our weekend shift differential in half. Saint John’s parent chain made $2.75 billion last year, but they put their money into management salaries rather than nurse retention and patient care."
“New nurses come here to get training and experience, then leave to get better pay somewhere else," said Saint John's Labor & Delivery RN Lori Hammond. "We lose good nurses to UCLA, Good Samaritan, and other area hospitals. High turnover means low experience levels. Patients and insurers pay top dollar for care at Saint John's, and they deserve the most experienced nurses who can provide safe quality care.”
The one-day strike will begin on Wednesday, June 13 at 7:00 AM and end at 6:59 AM Thursday, June 14.