Local nurses join statewide strike

As nurses across California went on strike Thursday, massive groups of local nurses and supporters gathered to protest at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center hospitals in Berkeley.

Nurses from the California Nurses Association, who walked off the job at affiliate hospitals across the state, protested “200 sweeping demands for concessions” they believe would restrict their abilities to effectively advocate for patients as well as reduce patient care, according to a media release from the union. Contract negotiations between the union and Alta Bates have been ongoing since May.

At 12 p.m. Thursday, more than 250 local nurses and supporters assembled at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center campus on Hawthorne Avenue.

“I would be happy just going back to the old contract,”  said Jacqueline Musich, who said she has been a labor and delivery nurse for the past 17 years. “This is an unprecedented number of takeaways. It feels malicious.”

The union outlined its frustrations in a National Nurses United — of which the California Nurses Association is a sector — media release, stating that Sutter Health wanted to eliminate paid sick leave, reduce retiree health coverage and hinder the ability of charge nurses to advocate for patients.

A statement from Alta Bates  said it will remain committed to providing nurses with competitive wages and benefits.

Replacement nurses are keeping the hospital staffed for the next five days.

“We’re losing pay for five days because we want to strike for one day,” said Tanja Schlosser, an Alta Bates nurse for more than 20 years. “Other hospitals don’t do this — it’s putting patients at risk.  We could be back to work tomorrow.”

Carolyn Kemp, director of public relations for Alta Bates, said it was necessary to sign a five-day agreement in order to get nurses of high caliber.

“I’ve never seen so many nurses out in the picket line so spirited and yet so angry,” said Liz Jacobs, communications specialist for the state union.

The hospital staff is scheduled to resume bargaining on Monday, according to Jacobs.

Kemp said Alta Bates hopes to reach an agreement with the union and welcome back the protesters to work Tuesday.

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  • Madashell

    Very sad when the  Unions claim to have the patients interest first.  That is BS.  There are many good hospitals the do just fine without a Union presence such as Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who overwhelmingly voted the nurses union out of the hospital.  The nurses at Long Beach Memorial Hospital are now wondering why the ever voted to go union. Now nurses at Long Beach Memorial Hospital have received the offer of a great benefits package, not to many people in these economic times are getting benefits like this.  But the dumb ass union wants the nurses to go on strike to help support and push the issue for some of the east coast member hospitals.  Most nurses work hard and just go along with the system, paying those dues and for what.  Lets get back to reality…if y0u are a lazy ass nurse you need to be FIRED.  Yes and I know its be said, but there are a lot of new grads that would like to have a job and cant because some do union nurse that is too lazy will get noticed and get a UNION rep and go through the process to avoid the real bottom line..you are burnt out lazy ass and need to go. The Unions need to go and with it their deep pocket payouts to the politicians.

  • Sandman784

    I have worked in a non-unionized hospital.  It was unsafe, with poor working conditions.  But nurses if ununited have no voice.  Been there. 
    Nurses are striking, yes.. for benefits and patient care.
    Fact: Sutter earned 3.7 B last year, and the CEO got paid 4M, and over 20 top execs received more than 1M salary.  So, if Sutter really wanted to lower patient care services, why pay such high salaries, and give 1M ad fee to Sacramento Kings? And why sell or close down patient services ie in burlingame alone- Dialysis Centers, Skilled Nursing Facility,  Cardiac Rehab, the Mills ER in the next year or so, MPEC, and numerous labor centers in rural areas, because they are not profitable?  I myself am not striking for retirment (have 40 more yrs to go whew!), and I think my pay is sufficient enough.  But I really am striking because of the greed.  I think Sutter is using the economy as an excuse to make numerous cuts for nurses.  But based on their actions, I think that whatever profit they will make from these cuts will go straight into their ceo’s and exec’s pockets.  BTW, wendy, do you really want me coming in with a flu, coughing on  my cancer patients who’s immune system just got killed by h atchemo? Nurses get sick frequently bec pt’s like you cough at our faces and expose us to different bugs. … so we really need those sick leave. 

    • Mcl12342

      My guess is the hospital are going to a PTO benefit system vs. sick days.  Nurses do get sick and require to call in, but they will take it out of a PTO benefit instead of sick days. 
      I do agree some of the salaries in administration are high, but doesn’t mean nurses are not compensated well for the care they provide. 
      Healthcare cost are going up, and I doubt very few Americans have any sympathy for nurses who have good insurance, pension and salaries in comparision to what they have today, especially the over nine percent who are unemployed.
      I am surprised nurses do not recognize how difficult times are for most.

  • I don’t think anyone strikes as often as nurses – always saying it’s about patient safety – yet they walk out on the people they are there to assist. Shame, shame shame on you nurses.

    • Jaime Bennett

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. If your sick pay and dozens of other benefits were on the line you would be angry too. They are striking in defense of their workers’ rights. And when the nurses walk out, there are other nurses there to care for the patients. They aren’t left to care for themselves.

      • Mcl1234

        It has been a tough economy the past few years Jaime.  Unemployment is high and wages and benefits for some have been cut.  Nurses in California are well compensated in comparison to many other US workers.

        • Bob

          And nurses in california are required to have twice the education of nurses in other states.

    • Mcl12342

      To me they are alot like teachers who state classroom size.  If the nurses keep going down this road, they will end up with the same level of respect as the teachers presently have.