Press Release

Thousands of RNs to Strike 9 California, Illinois Hospitals; Cite Staffing, Patient Care Concerns


More than 6,400 registered nurses will hold either a one or two-day strike April 30 and May 1 at eight California hospitals, as well as at a major Chicago hospital. RNs are calling on hospitals to stop endangering patients by implementing safe staffing levels and taking steps to retain experienced RNs. They are also demanding policies that give RNs a stronger voice in patient care delivery. 

In Los Angeles, a two-day strike is set April 30 and May 1 at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center and for one day May 1 at Providence Health and Services hospitals in Santa Monica and Torrance.

In Northern California, RNs will strike for one day April 30 at five Sutter Health facilities, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Sutter Auburn Faith, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, and Sutter Tracy. Sutter nurses will also conduct an informational picket that day at California Pacific Medical Center’s Pacific facility in San Francisco where CNA represents 750 RNs.

RNs at the large University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago will also strike, for one day, April 30.

National Nurses United and its California affiliate, the California Nurses Association, are calling the strikes. 

“Across the country, nurses are unified in insisting that hospitals improve RN staffing which far too often is compromising patient safety and other patient protections,” said NNU Co-President Karen Higgins, RN. Other issues at many of the hospitals include hospital demands for cuts in nurses’ health care and other policies that hurt the retention of experienced RNs.

“We’re fighting for patient safety, we’re fighting against unsafe staffing. We believe patients deserve better.  I’m inspired by my colleagues who are willing to step up and take on the Sutter Health corporation in the name of safe patient care,” said Jennifer Barker Tilly, an emergency room RN, one of 1,000 RNs represented by CNA at Sutter Roseville. 

“We are striking to improve the quality of patient care and improve staffing,” said Susan Fong, an Operating Room RN, one of 1,100 nurses at Kaiser LAMC.  “Kaiser must hire more RNs so that the patients get the nursing care they deserve.  Kaiser’s net profit was over $4.3 billion last year and is increasing each week.  They have recruited more than half a million more members last year alone and that number is increasing."

“Kaiser needs need to invest in staffing so that the nurses can adequately care for the large increase in patients.  Instead of investing in improving the quality of care, Kaiser management is engaging in an anti-union campaign to silence the RNs who are fighting for a collective voice to advocate for our patients,” Fong said.

“University of Chicago nurses are standing together to end the unsafe practice of rotating shifts, to keep staffing advocacy in the hands of bedside clinical nurses and to improve staffing conditions for our patients and the community,” said Burn Unit RN Talisa Hardin, one of 1,550 RNs at the hospital.

“As the healthcare industry continues to change, the role of the RN remains the same, to advocate for our patients.  We want patient safety regulations and protections added to our contract. Patients come first,” said Intensive Care Unit RN Heather Garrant, one of 700 RNs at Providence Health’s Little Company of Mary Torrance.

“Sutter is offering health care plans to the public that are better than what they are offering their own nurses. We need adequate health-care for ourselves and for our families along with staffing conditions that are safe.  As it is, Sutter is trying to cut corners despite tremendous profits, but nurses deserve basic essentials, which, at the very least, consist of quality health coverage and safe staffing,” said Sutter Santa Rosa ER nurse Debra Bucculatto, one of 420 RNs at the hospital.

“A nurse is not a product or commodity, we are patient care providers,” said Torrance RN Maria Vazquez, who cares for cancer patients and patients on monitors. “The experience of each nurse must be valued because the safety for each patient depends on knowledgeable nurses. It's important to retain our newer nurses so they can become a well-rounded experienced RN. The strike vote will send a strong message to Providence that RNs are serious about fighting for patient care.”   

Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica is refusing to address critical patient safety concerns raised by the 520 RNs at the facility.  “Turnover has been huge at this hospital because we as nurses don’t feel we can deliver the kind of patient care we need to,” said Liz Wade, a Labor and Delivery nurse.  “The chronic short staffing, lack of break relief nurses and management’s refusal to respond seriously to our safety demands sends a bad message to RNs and the community.”

“Our willingness to strike shows that we will fight Sutter’s slash-and-burn agenda. As a nurse negotiator I am proud to stand with my fellow Mills-Peninsula RNs: united, determined, and strong,” said Chris Picard, Family Birth Center RN who is among 700 Mills-Peninsula RNs.

 “We truly see the value in being united with other Sutter nurses,” said Dotty Nygard, one of 175 RNs at Sutter Tracy.  “It has been a remarkable experience to witness our collective voice grow stronger as union nurses since we initially voted in the union. We are proudly standing up for safe patient care, a fair contract, and respect for our profession.”

“Nurses want management to respect the nurses,” said Torrance surgical unit RN Ludy Chang. “We want improvement in safe staffing and the delivery of safe patient care. We are here for our patients, our colleagues and our community” and need to make sure we can deliver the highest quality of care for them all year long, Chang said.

At Roseville, “Labor and Delivery staffing cuts are being carried out under the guise of  ‘efficiency’ when they are actually about cutting the quality of care,” said Labor and Delivery RN Andrea Seils. “Sutter is trying to restructure our unit to eliminate positions and combine care with no economic or operations justification for any of it. It’s unsafe for mothers and babies in our community.”

Media contacts:

General questions: Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246, or Martha Wallner, 510-273-2264

For Sutter hospitals: Joanne Jung, 510-703-4064

For Kaiser LAMC: Roy Hong, 818-822-4318

For Providence hospitals: Desi Murray, 818-355-8314

For University of Chicago: Jan Rodolfo, 773-791-0189