Striking nurses rally at CPMC

March 22, 2008 3:35:03 PM PDT
Striking nurses at California Pacific Medical Center marked the second day of their 10-day strike with a rally at noon today.

Some 4,000 registered nurses from California Nurses Association began striking at 7 a.m. Friday to show Sutter Health they are serious about negotiating a new contract. This strike is the third the association has called since October, as well as being the longest walkout of the three.

CNA spokesman Chuck Idelson said that the rally went very well thanks to the "spirited group" of people who attended.

"We had quite a few nurses that were here, as well as representatives from community organizations," Idelson said.

Registered nurse Jonica Brooks said that nurses are hoping the 10-day strike will push hospital officials back to the bargaining table.

"We are ready to go back to the table unconditionally and at any time," Brooks said.

Affected Sutter hospitals include St. Luke's Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, San Leandro Hospital, Alta Bates-Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

The nurses are striking to protest what they consider serious patient care issues including safe staffing even during rest and meal breaks, medical benefits and pension improvements. The nurses association is also protesting Sutter's alleged attempt to close three community hospitals in the Bay Area that serve a patient population that is poorer and composed of more people of color than other Sutter hospitals.

Bill Gleeson, a spokesman for Sutter Health, said nurses are well paid, receive free health care and a generous retirement plan. The real reason for the strike is related to the union's quest for increased membership and more dues money, he said.