Updated Thursday, April 30 – 9:15 a.m.
More than 5,000 nurses began two days of strikes today at three L.A-area hospitals and five in Northern California to press for higher staffing levels and what two unions call safer conditions for patients, but one of the strike targets said the job action is a union recruitment tactic unconnected to patient care.
“Management demands for cuts in health coverage for RNs and their families are also a major focus for nurses … especially RNs who work for the Sutter Health chain,” according to the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United.
The nurses “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,” said the union statement.
In Los Angeles County, a two-day strike was scheduled today and Friday at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard and for one day on Friday at Providence’s Torrance hospital and Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. About 500 people were picketing today outside Los Angeles Medical Center, a spokesperson for the nurses said.
Kaiser officials said the walkout is an organizing tactic by the California Nurses Association, which does not represent nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center but is one of three unions vying to.
“It is unfortunate that one of the organizing tactics chosen by this union is to call on nurses to walk away from their patients,” according to Kaiser. “We believe it is entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as part of a union-organizing effort.
“… We have plans in place to ensure we will have adequate levels of quality nursing care available to meet the needs of our patients, should some nurses heed the call of this union and decide to walk off the job. Nurses may also choose to cross the picket line and report to work.”
Kaiser said the strike “is not about quality or adequate staffing.”
“The quality of care our teams provide at LAMC has never been higher,” according to Kaiser. “In fact, just this week, the Los Angeles Medical Center and all Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California received an ‘A’ grade from the Leapfrog Group, an independent advocacy group of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage.”
“… This strike is unnecessary and counterproductive,” Kaiser said. “We have asked our nurses to reject the union’s call to walk off the job. It is critical that we work collaboratively, together so that we can continue to provide high-quality care for our patients.”
Nurses will also be on strike today at five Sutter corporation hospitals in Northern California — in Auburn, Burlingame, Roseville, Santa Rosa and Tracy.
Union officials had announced that picketing would take place at Kaiser at 4867 Sunset Blvd. starting at 7 a.m. today, and a rally would be held there at noon today and Friday. On Friday, picketing will start at 8 a.m. at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance at 4101 Torrance Blvd. and at Providence Saint John’s Health Center at 2121 Santa Monica Blvd.
Providence said it has in place a contingency plan to ensure patients will continue to receive the highest level of quality and compassionate care.
“Providence respects every employee’s right to choose to be represented by a union and has negotiated with the CNA in good faith, including offering a competitive compensation package,” a statement read. “While we respect employees’ right to participate in a strike, we are disappointed this is the action the union is taking and know it would be more constructive to get back to bargaining.”