Friday, December 23, 2011

2011-12-23 "Solano nurses strike over contract talks" by Sarah Rohrs from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Dozens of Sutter Solano Medical Center nurses in Vallejo walked off the job Thursday to protest contract negotiations, though a hospital official said the strike did not impact medical operations.
The small but noisy crowd of nurses and their supporters gathered outside the Sutter Solano entrance on Tuolumne Street to decry what they say are unreasonable management demands.
Some nurses carried signs reading "Sutter is the Grinch" and "All I want for Christmas is a Decent Contract."
"I'm out here to support my nurses and to protest the takeaways we're facing. They will impact patient safety and not allow nurses to stay home and heal" when they get sick, said Janet Braillard, a 24-year Sutter nurse.
The one-day strike did not impact Vallejo hospital operations, Sutter Solano spokesman Sy Neilson said. Contract nurses would remain on the job today with regular nurses coming back to work Saturday.
Neilson added that union members are making false claims about what is on the bargaining table and the nature of the proposals. He said Sutter Solano nurses are well compensated, and earn good health benefits and pensions.
Sutter Solano nurses have been without a contract since July, union leaders said. Nurses particularly object to Sutter's contract proposals which, they said, would erode their health insurance and sick leave, forcing them to work while they are ill.
A noon rally drew a crowd of about 100 people, including Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, a registered nurse and former union leader.
Allen told nurses they have strong community support and they should keep fighting. He added the Sutter corporation is "immensely profitable" and shouldn't skimp on health care.
Union leaders say management is taking a "hard line" stand and demanding nearly 150 concessions which could erode patient care and nursing standards at a time Sutter is recording high profits and salaries among its top executives.
Sutter's Neilson sees it differently. He said that under current proposals, nurses have the option of choosing a 100 percent employer-paid health plan. Another option would provide more extensive coverage but would require that nurses share in costs, he said.
In terms of sick leave, Neilson said nurses would have varying numbers of days they could take off with pay depending on how long they were on the job.
"To be honest, I don't see the takeaway," Neilson said. "We really hope that after the strike they will continue to negotiate with us."
California Nurses Association Director of Communications Charles Idelson said Sutter's paid advertisements and public statements in reaction to the strike are an attempt to detract from the real issues.
Sutter's points about nursing pay and pension are irrelevant and false, Idelson added.
"People who run these corporations are part of the 1 percent," referring to the now-common slogan used in recent Occupy protests over concentration of wealth in a small portion of the population.
"They run hospitals like they run Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers and they are trampling communities they pretend to serve," Idelson said. "That's the heart of this strike."
However, Neilson said the union itself had proposed new and costly demands, free retiree health care for life and doubling of pension credits.
In addition, Neilson said any profits Sutter makes are reinvested back into the organization, resulting in new programs, services and facilities.
Top executive pay is based on surveys of pay levels from similar organizations, Neilson said.
The one-day walkout affected Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center hospitals in Castro Valley and San Leandro, and Sutter Delta in Antioch.

No comments:

Post a Comment