Sutter nurses begin second strike in two months
As many as 5,000 nurses joined rallies at 13 Sutter Health hospitals
in the Bay Area today,
calling for better healthcare beneifits and retirement plans.
Photo by John
By Laura Dudnick
December 13, 2007
For the second time in two months, some 5,000 nurses gathered
Thursday outside 13 Sutter Health hospitals in the Bay Area to
advocate issues they say haven't been adequately addressed since
the October strike.
The nurses want better healthcare and retirement plans, according
to Liz Jacobs, a California Nurses Association spokeswoman.
They also want "adequate meal and rest breaks so they can
perform safely," and they would like for trained hospital
personnel to be hired who can lift obese patients to prevent nurses
from straining their backs, Jacobs said.
In addition, Jacobs said Sutter is asking nurses "to accept
... health care that has higher premiums and less choice of where
they can go." The nurses also want "good health care
when they retire and a decent pension," Jacobs added.
Dori Stevens, chief executive nurse at Sutter Delta Medical Center
in Antioch, said they are willing to meet with union leaders to
reach an agreement.
"We have offered a very comprehensive package to the nurses,"
Stevens said today.
The union wants one master contract for all Sutter hospitals
and "to change the language of the contract to make it easier
for nurses to join the union," said Kevin McCormack, a spokesman
for California Pacific Medical Center, one of the hospitals where
nurses went on strike.
The two-day strike began at about 7 a.m. today as nurses showed
up "in good spirits" to the 13 hospitals to advocate
the three key issues they reportedly addressed in October's strike,
"Nurses don't want to strike," Jacobs emphasized. "The
fact that they took the second strike was a message to Sutter
that whatever Sutter put across the table between the strikes
Jan Rodolfo, RN at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley,
said in addition to understaffing of nurses and decreasing of
health benefits, the nurses oppose Sutter's plans to eliminate
acute care services at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco's
Mission District by 2009. St. Luke's Hospital provides charitable
care services to underserved minority patients in the area.
"We want to know where the patients in the Mission District
are supposed to go when there's no other hospital other than General
Hospital south of Market," said Rodolfo.
The hospitals affected by the strike: San Francisco's St. Luke's
Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center, San Leandro Hospital,
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula
Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, Castro Valley's Eden
Medical Center, Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Sutter
Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, Sutter Medical Center in Santa
Rosa, Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae and Novato Community
Hospital, have hired replacement nurses to temporarily fill in
for those on strike, Jacobs said.
Although the strike is expected to last two days, nurses at all
Bay Area Sutter hospitals, excluding St. Luke's Hospital, California
Pacific Medical Center and Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa,
may not be able to return to work until Monday or Tuesday because
the hospitals hired replacement nurses under contracts that last
three to five days, according to Jacobs.
Nurses at St. Luke's Hospital, California Pacific Medical Center
and Sutter Medical Center are expected to return to work Saturday,
The nurses are ready to jump in to help if an emergent situation
presents itself, Jacobs said.
"We always have provisions and are willing to not compromise
care," Jacobs said. "We're not going to make the patients
John Han contributed to this report.
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