Hospitals brace for 10-day nurse strike

The 4,000 nurses starting their 10-day strike at Bay Area Sutter Health hospitals today hope their longest work stoppage yet will hit the facilities hard enough to end the nine-month dispute.

Approximately 5,000 nurses walked out for two days apiece in October and December as part of a labor dispute with the 13 Sutter Health hospitals throughout the Bay Area after the nurses’ contract expired in June. Eight of the hospitals will continue with the 10-day strike today through March 30.

Despite the work stoppages, the group representing the workers, the California Nurses Association, say no progress has been made and no end to the dispute is in sight.

“We really need to make a stand for our patients and it’s taking a lot more than it ever did; they did not respond to the first two [strikes],” said Sharon Tobin, Mills RN and nurses spokeswoman.

Mills’ administrators, meanwhile, have stuck to their strategy of hoping nurses tire of union activities and settle.

The hospital has hired scores of temporary nurses from around the nation whowill receive complimentary travel to the Peninsula and lodging during their time at Mills.

“We are completely ready to take care of our patients through this third strike,” said Mills Chief Nursing Officer Dolores Gomez. “We have a full replacement staff and no services are being canceled.”

Issues for the nurses include improved benefits and hospital services. They are seeking enhanced nurse-to-patient ratios, lift teams for handling large patients and rapid response team support at all Sutter hospitals.

Some nurses scheduled overtime prior to the strike or began working temporary shifts at other hospitals to offset the loss of pay, Tobin said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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