LOS ANGELES (CNS) - More than 5,000 nurses will stage strikes in the Los Angeles area and around the state tomorrow and Friday to press for higher staffing levels and what they call safer conditions for patients.
“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.
According to the unions, 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.”
Talks are scheduled today at one of the Los Angeles area hospitals targeted in the strike, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, but the nurses are doubtful that hospital officials wish to resolve differences “after hospital officials surrounded the facility with fence barricades on Monday,” according to the unions.
In Los Angeles County, a two-day strike is scheduled Thursday 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.
Kaiser officials said the walkout is an organizing tactic by the CNA, which does not represent nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center but is one of three unions vying to be their union.
“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 adquate 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 noted that 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 has received an `A’ grade from the Leapfrog Group, an independent advocacy group of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage.”
The strike is “about this union’s inability to use any organizing tools beyond the counterproductive, out-of-date and inappropriate tactics they have used in just about every situation for decades. … This strike is unnecessary
and counterproductive. 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 Thursday at five Sutter corporation hospitals in Northern California — in Auburn, Burlingame, Roseville, Santa Rosa and Tracy.
Union officials said picketing would take place at Kaiser at 4867 Sunset Blvd. starting at 7 a.m., and a rally would be held there at noon Thursday 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.
“We want patient safety regulations and protections added to our contract. Patients come first,” said Intensive Care Unit RN Heather Garrant, one of 700 RNs at Providence Health’s Little Company of Mary Torrance.
There was no immediate response from Providence.