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In Face of Hostile Bargaining and Intimidation by Management, Mills-Peninsula to Vote to Authorize Strike
Date:3/3/2008

Nurses to Discuss Management's Retaliatory Tactics, Patient Care Problems

at 12 Noon Media Availability Today

5,000 Nurses at 11 Facilities to Vote to Authorize Strike

OAKLAND, Calif., March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- In an atmosphere that nurses describe as attempted "intimidation" from Sutter Health, RNs at Mills-Peninsula Health Services will vote today and tomorrow to authorize their bargaining teams to strike the hospital chain for up to 10 days over serious issues of patient safety and patient care, as well as healthcare for nurses, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee reports today. They will hold a media availability at noon today to discuss the internal intimidation campaign that the hospital is attempting as the vote nears.

Nurses at California Pacific Medical Center and Sutter Solano last week were the first to vote to again reject the "last, best, and final" proposal by Sutter, which has not changed significantly in months, and nurses from the rest of the facilities will hold strike authorization votes this week.

WHAT: Media Availability on Attempted Intimidation of Nurses, Strike

Vote

WHERE: Mills-Peninsula Health Services, 101 S. San Mateo Dr., San

Mateo

WHEN: Monday, March 3, 2008, 12 Noon

Sharon Tobin, a nurse at the facility, described the situation like this:

"Now in response to increased activism by the RNs, the administration at

MPHS has decided to try to silence them and limit their access to

information ... The intimidation that went on from managers in the

medical surgical units has spilled over to the rest of the facility.

Administration now has ... posted a security guard at the entrance to

the Family Birth Center to spy on the activist RNs there. However, these

coercive tactics will not deter the RNs here at Sutter Health/MPHS. We

will continue to fight for our rights and the best care of our patients.

We will not back down and will continue to battle for our community, even

in the face of increased pressure from Sutter Health."

These tactics mirror those used at other facilities around the area. Nurses at Novato Community Hospital have faced attempts to bar CNA representatives from visiting and RNs at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center faced a campaign to target and harass nurse activists that was unwittingly revealed in an email from the Director of Nursing.

5,000 RNs have walked out of 11 Sutter facilities twice already. They are all in the process of voting to authorize a third strike, and CPMC nurses joined Sutter Solano nurses with their overwhelming yes vote. The key reason for the walkouts is the pattern of patient safety risks caused by Sutter's refusal to schedule RNs to care for patients when nurses are on legally-mandated meal or rest breaks. Such scheduling gaps leave patients unattended and at risk for sentinel events.

Nurses are also concerned over Sutter's practice of "medical redlining" by closing three hospitals in medically underserved areas (St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco, San Leandro Hospital, and Sutter Santa Rosa Medical Center), and their refusal to agree to fair settlements on issues of healthcare and retiree healthcare and pensions.

"CPMC nurses have stayed united to vote to reject Sutter's inadequate proposals a second time, despite an aggressive union-busting campaign based on threats, rumors of retaliation, and CPMC CEO Martin Brotman's stated refusal to negotiate," said Eileen Prendiville, an RN at CPMC and a member of CNA's bargaining team.

"Sutter is not adequately staffing its units to ensure patient safety or appropriate care," said Genel Morgan, an RN at Mills-Peninsula Health Services and a board member of CNA. "This is no way to run a hospital system. Nurses are concerned over the quality of care our patients are receiving, and we will protect them."

"Sutter engages in 'medical redlining' by attempting to close hospitals because they have a medically underserved patient population. The people who go to St. Luke's Hospital, Sutter Santa Rosa, and San Leandro deserve to be treated the same as patients from fancier areas," said Jane Sandoval, an RN at St. Luke's Hospital.

Patient Care Problems Key to Dispute

The key area of dispute is patient care protections. Sutter has rejected the nurses' proposal for dedicated meal-and-break relief RNs as well as for trained lift teams available 24 hours a day to protect patients from falls and nurses from back injuries. Another important concern is a proposal that all patients are assigned directly to an RN. Sutter RNs are also incensed by the chain's attempt at most facilities to cut back healthcare benefits and attempt to shift cost, premiums, and fees onto the nurses, both those currently working and retirees. Sutter RNs note that other hospitals, such as Kaiser Permanente, in a very competitive market during a nursing shortage, offer much better retirement medical benefits and as a result find it easier to recruit and retain nurses.

Hospitals Affected

Sutter hospitals affected are 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, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, Sutter Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, and Sutter Novato.

Representing some 80,000 RNs in all 50 states, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee is the largest and fastest-growing association of direct-care RNs in the nation. Learn more at http://www.calnurses.org


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SOURCE California Nurses Association
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