Thousands of nurses plan to strike at 34 hospitals


The California Nurses Association says it's striking over, among other things, wages, pensions, health care benefits, and sick time. They also say they're protesting cuts in patient services at, in particular, Sutter Health hospitals.

The union spent the afternoon loading up pickets to be delivered to 23,000 nurses at 34 hospitals in Northern and Central California starting at 7 a.m.

The California nurses association is loading trucks with pickets and other gear, getting ready to fan out over Northern and Central California. There will be 23,000 nurses from 34 hospitals will be on strike starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday. The nurses union says Sutter Health is the main target.

Sutter, Kaiser, and Oakland's Children's Hospital have hired replacement nurses. Sutter says even though the strike is a one-day strike, the replacement workers will be there for five days. Surgeries will go on and emergency departments will be open. Children's Hospital in Oakland says it will have to cancel its elective surgeries.

"I'm very concerned about the California Nurses Associations' agenda. I think they talk a lot about that they're here for the patients, they're here for patients' safety and it's very clear that they're not. Any organization that would lead a state to have 34 hospitals on strike at the same time, does not care about patient safety and does not care about patient care," said Nancy Shibata from Children's Hospital Oakland.

"It's always about the patients. That's why I come to work with a back injury because it's about my patients," said Leslie Silket, R.N., from Alta Bates Summit.

Sutter is the primary target. The Alta Bates Summit campus issued a statement saying, "We remain committed to providing our nurses competitive wages and benefits, while also doing our part to make health care more affordable for our patients. We are deeply disappointed in the union's decision to call this strike."

Summit last met with the union on Sept. 14 and the next bargaining session is scheduled for this coming Monday.

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