By Bay City News
About 4,400 registered nurses at 10 hospitals in the Bay Area managed by Sutter Health are planning a one-day strike on Wednesday to protest concessions that they say Sutter management is demanding.
The strike will be the latest in a series of strikes by members of the California Nurses Association over contracts that have been under negotiation for about a year.
Union spokeswoman Liz Jacobs said today that nurses will engage in the strike to protest concessions demanded by management such as eliminating paid sick days, requiring nurses to pay for health care for themselves and their families and eliminating retiree health plans.
However, Sutter spokeswoman Karen Garner said nurses are highly paid, earning an average of $136,000 per year, but union leaders "want double-digit wage increases and free health care for life which will increase costs at our hospitals by tens of millions of dollars each year."
Garner said, "We will continue to offer competitive wages and benefits but will reject unreasonable demands that unnecessarily increase costs."
Jacobs said nurses are engaging in a one-day strike again "because there's been absolutely no movement in bargaining by the hospital." he said, "We've made compromises but Sutter hasn't."
Jacobs said the one-day walkout will occur at three Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo and Novato Community Hospital.
Garner said that as it has done in previous strikes, Sutter will bring in replacement nurses to ensure that it maintains a full staff that can offer the same level of service to its patients.
She said that although the nurses only plan to strike for 24 hours, Sutter has hired replacements for multiple days of work because most replacement nurses have contracts that require them to work for multiple days.
That means striking nurses will miss several days of work, Garner said.