10/12/07

Striking nurses fail to hold picket line

Roughly half the registered nurses at three Fremont-Rideout Health Group facilities reported to work Wednesday, the beginning of the two-day strike, according to hospital officials. Nurse representatives, however, said they are not surprised at the release of those numbers nor are they discouraged in their efforts to improve patient care.

“It doesn’t mean (nurses) are giving up,” said Karen Miles, RN at the Fremont-Rideout Cancer Center. “It just means they have a family to support. Any time you take away sick leave and vacation pay (people will cross the lines).” Hospital officials are reporting 229 of the eligible 450 nurses to be a part of the union, crossed the picket lines to report to work. During the Aug. 31, one-day strike, 104 nurses reported to work.

These numbers, Vice President of Human Resources Tresha Moreland said, only include counts from the Fremont and Rideout hospitals not the Fremont-Rideout Cancer Center or the Feather River Surgery Center.

The majority of the nine nurses at the surgery center, however, opted out of the union last month.

Fremont-Rideout Health Group registered nurses are on strike for the second time in less than two months. This strike, coordinated by the California Nurse Association, is at the same time as a strike at 13 Bay Area Hospitals where roughly 5,000 nurses from the Sutter Health chain walked off their jobs.

Nurses, however, say the estimates from the hospital are all wrong.

In a released statement, nurse representatives said, “The claims by hospital management are absurd and false. The vast majority of registered nurses participated in the walkout and the hospital should respect its RNs enough to work and resolve this dispute rather than spread misinformation to the public.

“It is likely they are including in their count managers, supervisors and traveling nurses. We have heard that nurses who entered the hospital to visit patients were forced to sign in as ‘strike breakers’ before being allowed in. We expect hospital management to bargain in good faith. They have made no movement in negotiations since August.”

Sessions to resume negotiations have not been scheduled.

Emergency room doctors and administrators said the efforts made by the hospital and the nurses who crossed the line helped continue the hospitals efforts to maintain quality patient care.

“Business is as normal,” Dr. Kashmir Singh said. “We haven’t heard any patient complaints that service was less than before. There is no change in care. Replacements were by bed sides when patients were transferred and asking questions to make sure they were doing procedures right.

“The hospital went out of their way to get an adequate number of people who were certified and provide the best service they could.”

(appeal-democrat.com)

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