Bay Area nurses plan to strike

March 11, 2008 7:17:46 PM PDT
Next Friday, nurses at Sutter hospitals are planning to strike for 10 days; it's a walkout that will impact eight Bay Area hospitals.

And now the California nurses association says it will also stage a three-day strike at a couple of public hospitals in Fremont and Martinez.

Health officials in Contra Costa County are bracing for a planned three-day nurses strike later this month.

At a hospital that serves the area's most vulnerable population, those who rely on public funds for healthcare.

"Our only option will be to empty the hospital as best we can to cut way back on services to survive a three-day strike," said Dr. William Walker from Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.

The announcement by the California Nurses Association of a March 21st strike at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center comes as the hospital and county clinics grapple with a projected $9 million dollar deficit.

At issue, a county plan to freeze the nurse's health benefits at current levels.

"There's a local budget problem, a state budget problem and a federal budget problem. This is the worst of all possible times for a strike," said Dr. Walker.

The Contra Costa walkout will coincide with the start of a ten-day strike at eight Bay Area hospitals affiliated with Sutter Health, including Alta Bates Summit in Oakland.

Besides benefits, the issues involve staffing ratios and safe lifting procedures.

The nurses staged two prior two-day strikes in October and December.

"It doesn't appear the hospital has taken those two-day strikes very seriously. And we feel, it's time to send a stronger message," said Jan Rodolfo from the California Nurses Association.

Jacob Jory is an emergency medical technician who often drives patients to and from Alta Bates Summit.

"Nursing staffing levels can be ok, but if they're striking for a pay raise, I think make enough," said Emergency Medical Technician Jacob Jory.

Though she declined to appear on camera, a spokesperson for Alta Bates Summit in Oakland claims each nurses' strike is having less of an impact inside the hospital. She claims because fewer nurses are choosing to come outside, and joint he picket lines.

The Nurses Association maintains support among their ranks for the walkouts -- remains strong.