9/30/07

Cal. nurses' union calls big strike for Oct.

Fremont-Rideout Health Group registered nurses announced Friday they will walk the picket lines for the second time in less than two months. A two-day strike is set for Oct. 10 and 11. Fremont-Rideout nurses will participate in a statewide strike involving an estimated 5,000 nurses from the Sutter Health chain with facilities in the Bay Area.

“It is clear now CNA (California Nurses Association) is more concerned with its own agenda than our nurses,” said Tresha Moreland, vice president of human resources for Fremont-Rideout. “We’ll take precautions as usual to provide the best care for our patients.”

Nurses’ representatives, however, said quality of care and availability of patient services are crucial to quality service. Nurses at 12 facilities in the Sutter Heath chain – including hospitals in Berkeley, Vallejo, San Francisco and San Leandro – will take part in the two-day strike.

“This will be one of the largest strikes in California since the 1990s,” said Heather Avalos, a registered nurse at Rideout Memorial Hospital. “Next week’s meeting was called off. The mediator doesn’t see a reason to meet now that we’ve called a strike, but we look at it as two weeks to get things settled.”

More than 200 nurses participated in a one-day strike Aug. 31 at four Fremont-Rideout facilities – including Rideout and Fremont hospitals, Fremont-Rideout Cancer Center, Feather River Surgery Center and Feather River Surgery Center, which had nine nurses who were affected by the strike, has since dropped out of the union.

Hospital administration and nurse negotiating teams were scheduled to resume contract negotiations Oct. 4.

Avalos said the nurses have accepted a 5.5 percent pay increase offered by the health group, but the health group has not acknowledged the union’s approval.

“We wanted to get money off the table because patient care is the issue,” Avalos said. “It’s not about money.”

Moreland said the approval was not received because there were “crucial deficiencies” in the response from the nurses.

“The strike came as a surprise,” Moreland said. “We were contacted by the federal mediator saying the nurses were ready to move on the economic aspects, but there were deficiencies in the response from CNA.”

(appeal-democrat.com)

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