On December 22, up to 4,000 nurses who work for the Sutter Corporation are going on strike, protesting against sweeping cuts in healthcare coverage and patient care protections, according to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.
Almost 2,000 nurses at Long Beach Memorial, a major hospital in Southern California, will join in the strike, protesting at the proposed reduction in health coverage for nurses, as well as putting off concerns regarding patient care.
The strike will affect the following hospitals:
- In the Bay Area
- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Berkeley
- Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Oakland
- Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospital, Burlingame
- Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospital, San Mateo
- Sutter Delta, Antioch
- Sutter Solano, Vallejo The following may also be affected by nurses' strikes (awaiting strike vote results)
- Eden Medical Center hospital, Castro Valley
- Eden Medical Center hospital, San Leandro
The Sutter Corporation has made over $3.7 billion in profits over the last six years, the CNA informs. Another work stoppage occurred in September this year, triggered by almost 200 demands for major alterations to contracts.
The gist of the California Nurses Association announcement yesterday was that Sutter hospitals are cash rich and should not be demanding reductions in contracts and patient care.
Amy Black, a Sutter Delta nurse, said:
"Sutter Health's demands at the bargaining table have forced nurses to strike, because they're unreasonable and would negatively affect patient care. We are nurses and must stand up for our patients and the good of our communities."
Black says that since the strike, there have been numerous meetings with Sutter management officials, and very little progress. She says Sutter continues with demands for cuts that would undermine safety standards and make even more money for the company, with barely any advantages for patients.
"System-wide, more than 150 takeaway demands remain on the table, nearly 100 at Alta Bates Summit alone.
The nurses union says that Sutter is relentlessly pushing for changes that would make it very hard for nurses to properly advocate for patients against the budget-focused priorities of the company's management. Nurses will effectively be forced to work when they are ill, exposing their pathogens to patients, some of whom are extremely ill.
Oncology RN, Hebron Viray, at Alta Bates' Berkeley campus, said:
"Sutter's proposal to eliminate sick leave will force nurses to come to work sick which will further jeopardize our fragile patients."
Teresa Mullen, a charge nurse at the Oakland campus of Alta Bates Summit, said:
"Sutter's proposal to eliminate charge nurses threatens high-quality patient care and our ability to maintain patient safety and to advocate for our patients."
The Union explains that Sutter nurses also oppose the company's attempts to:
- Reduce healthcare coverage for nurses. This would significantly raise their out-of-pocket costs
- Eliminate part-time nurses' benefits
- Impose a number of other cuts that would cost nurses thousands of dollars in lost income
Rowena Modesto, a nurse at Sutter Solano (Vallejo), said:
"We told our management that we would pledge not to strike if they pledged to not put takeaways on the table. They would not make that commitment. They are the ones who are forcing us into this situation. We must stick together to fight on behalf of our standards and our patients."
CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez, RN, said:
"Nurses will not be silent when corporations like Sutter demonstrate they care more about their budgets and Wall Street portfolios than they do about assuring the highest quality of care for their patients, and keeping experienced, professional RNs at the bedside. Every nurse, just like every American, deserves quality healthcare, and should not be threatened with high costs for basic coverage that threatens the health security of their families."
Sharon Tobin, a nurse at Sutter Mills-Peninsula, Burlingame, said:
"We staunchly refuse to be silenced on patient care protections. As nurses, we speak up, and we insist on standards that safeguard our patients, but Sutter doesn't want to hear about anything that might cut into their huge profits."
The nursing union says Sutter hospital nurses have complained of the lax workplace safety standards at their hospitals. After a nurse was assaulted at the Oakland Alta Bates Summit campus, the company will not upgrade safety procedures for patients and nurses - procedures the nurses had put forward.
The union and nurses also complain that Sutter is:
- "Slashing" patient care services
- Shutting units down
- Saying it will shut hospitals down because their profits are not high enough
- Reducing women's health services, home health, rehabilitation services, and pediatric care
"Sutter executives are awarding themselves lavish compensation packages while they cut services to the community and demand sacrifices from the nurses. We have to strike."
Written by Christian Nordqvist