Nurses’ walkout fails to garner new contract

It appears as if nearly 5,000 Bay Area nurses will have to return to work Friday without a new contract, after trading in their stethoscopes for picket signs Wednesday and today, as the possibility of another strike looms.

The two-day strike took place at 13 Bay Area hospitals — in addition to two others in Northern California — that operate under Sutter Health. Each hospital has failed to agree on a new contract with the California Nurses Association, which is representing thenurses, after negotiation and mediation attempts. Both sides said no breakthroughs are in sight.

Another strike would be “up to Sutter,” said CNA spokesman Chuck Idelson. He added that the CNA hopes there is not another work stoppage, but that “it’s possible.”

The nurses say their foremost goal is better patient treatment. Their demands include enhanced nurse-to-patient ratios and the introduction of a rapid response team support at all Sutter hospitals.

“You work all your life in a health care industry and retire without adequate health care,” said Sammy Wartman, 63, a 31-year registered nurse at Mills in Burlingame.

Mills has not cut any health care and has offered increased retirement benefits, said Mills Vice President of Human Resources Debbie Goodin. They made a substantial offer to their nurses that was turned down, she said.

“As I look out the window at nurses on the picket line, they’re holding signs that say ‘no takeaways,’ but the fact of the matter is the offer they turned down has no takeaways,” Mills Chief Nurse Officer Delores Gomez said.

Medical centers affected by strike

» Mills-Peninsula Health Services (Burlingame, San Mateo)

» California Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco)

» St. Luke’s hospitals (San Francisco)

» Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (Berkeley, Oakland)

» Eden Medical Center (Castro Valley)

» San Leandro Hospital

» Sutter Santa Rosa

» Sutter Delta (Antioch)

» Sutter Solano (Vallejo)

» Sutter Marin General Hospital (Greenbrae)

» Sutter Novato

» Fremont-Rideout Health Group facilities (Marysville, Yuba City)

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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