Thousands of registered nurses are on strike today at hospitals across the Bay Area after Union negotiations with Sutter Health failed to resolve disputes between the two parties. The Nurse's union called the strike to protest alleged concessions in patient care protections and nursing standards.
Thursday morning, dozens of nurses stood outside hospitals, chanting statements like "Patient safety is our goal", and waving signs that read "Sutter is the Grinch."
The one-day walk out strike started at 7 a.m. this morning and is scheduled to end 24 hours later on Friday morning.
About 4,000 nurses have pledged to strike. Half of the nurses work at Alta Bates, at the Summit and Herrick campuses in Berkeley and Oakland. The others work at Eden Medical Center facilities in Castro Valley and San Leandro , Sutter Delta in Antioch, and Sutter Solano in Vallejo, as well as the Mills-Peninsula hospital campus in Burlingame and San Mateo.
The California Nurses Associations says an additional 2,000 registered nurses will also be protesting in Long Beach today.
Under a new agreement offered by Sutter Health, nurses would no longer be entitled to 12 days of paid sick leave, and those in charge of hospital wards would no longer be allowed to unionize.
The Union say that eliminating paid sick leave may cause overworked and ill nurses to make potentially deadly medical mistakes.
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center has pledged to lock out the nurses who strike. The hospital has already arranged for temporary replacement nurses to come in, and striking nurses will not be able to return to work until the 24th, spokeswoman Carolyn Kemp told the Mercury News.
To arrange for the replacement nurses, Sutter had to enter into a five-day contract. The replacement nurses will be paid for the full five days, but will only work two days, today and Friday.
The walkout comes exactly three months after the last strike on September 22, which was also supposed to last no longer than 24 hours.
That strike however, ended up lasting for five days because Alta Bates Summit locked out the striking nurses. A patient at the hospital, Judith Ming, died during the strike. Her dead was blamed on a medical error made by a replacement nurse by Alabama based Advanced Clinical Employment Staffing.
The same staffing company will be providing some of the replacement nurses during this strike.