Bay Area Nurses to strike
As manay as 5,000 Bay Area registered nurses are expected to stage
a two-day strike
on Wednesday and Thursday over patient care practices at Sutter
as well as health insurance benefits.
Photo(s) by John
By Jeff Shuttleworth
October 9, 2007
California Nurses Association officials and hospital managers
agreed yesterday that it appears virtually certain that 5,000
registered nurses at 15 hospitals in Northern California, mostly
in the Bay Area, will stage a two-day strike on Wednesday and
But union and management officials disagreed about the reasons
for the labor impasse as well as the details of management's contract
Speaking at a news conference at the union's headquarters in
Oakland, CAN executive director Rose Ann DeMoro said the principal
issues in the dispute are patient care practices at the Sutter
Health hospital chain as well as health insurance benefits.
But Kevin McCormack, the spokesman at California Pacific Medical
Center in San Francisco, one of the hospitals threatened with
the two-day strike, said he believes the dispute actually centers
on what he described as the union's "aggressive membership
McCormack said the union wants to change the organizing language
in nurses' contracts so that it's easier for the union to recruit
He said it's illegal for the nurses' union to strike over organizing
issues, so instead the union says it's concerned about patient
DeMoro alleged that Sutter wants to cut back on health care benefits
for nurses, calling its proposal "a travesty," but McCormack
and other spokespersons at Sutter hospitals said their contract
offers don't call for any such reductions.
McCormack alleged that the CNA "is confusing people"
by giving the impression that Sutter is engaging in a single system-wide
bargaining process for all 13 of its facilities in Northern California
when in fact each hospital is negotiating individually with the
The two-day strike is set to begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday at the
13 hospitals operated by the Sutter Health as well as two hospitals
operated by the Fremont-Rideout Health Group in Yuba City and
The Sutter hospitals that will be affected are Alta Bates Summit
Medical Center, with facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula
Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, San Leandro Hospital,
Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, and Sutter Delta in Antioch.
Also affected are Sutter Solano in Vallejo, California Pacific
Medical Center and St. Luke's in San Francisco, Sutter Santa Rosa,
Sutter Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Sutter Novato and
Sutter Delta spokeswoman Dori Stevens said, "We anticipate
that the strike will go forward and we are prepared."
She said the hospital plans to bring in 86 outside nurses during
Debbie Goodwin, vice president of human relations at Mills-Peninsula,
said it plans to bring in more than 200 nurses from around the
Goodwin said the outside nurses will undergo "intensive
training" tonight and tomorrow.
McCormack said California Pacific also will bring in replacement
nurses and has canceled some elective surgeries.
McCormack said hospital administrators hope that many nurses
will cross the union's picket lines on Wednesday and report to
work as normal.
He said many nurses are unhappy about the strike and more than
200 nurses at his hospital signed a petition saying they are happy
with management's contract offer but the union ignored them.
Goodin said she believes some nurses at Mills-Peninsula also
will cross picket lines.
McCormack said California Pacific is offering nurses a 21.5 percent
pay increase over four years as well as to increase their retirement
benefits and double their reimbursement for education and other
If the contract is approved, the average salary for nurses at
California Pacific would be $142,000 a year, he said.
Stevens said Sutter Delta's offer includes a 25 percent wage
increase over three years, including a 15 percent pay hike the
first year, plus no-premium health care for nurses and their families
and increases in nurses' retirement health care accounts.
Goodin said Mills-Peninsula is offering a 19 percent wage increase
over four years plus free health care benefits and a fully paid
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