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Local nurses plan to strike today

Lodi Memorial Hospital prepares for overflow of patients

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 6:36 am | Updated: 11:44 am, Thu Sep 22, 2011.

Thousands of nurses at nearly three dozen hospitals in Northern and Central California are set to go on strike Thursday over benefit cuts and other concessions sought by hospital management.

The California Nurses Association — the union organizing the strike — estimates that nearly 23,000 nurses will walk off the job at 7 a.m. at 33 not-for-profit hospitals run by Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, and at the independent Children’s Hospital Oakland. The hospitals include Kaiser centers in Stockton, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, and the Berkeley and Oakland campuses of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center — a Sutter Health-affiliated hospital.

Kaiser officials say that patients, in most cases, will not be affected, according to Kaiser’s website. Elective procedures and some appointments  at Kaiser may be postponed, according to the website.

Meanwhile, Lodi Memorial Hospital is getting ready for the possibility of having to accept Kaiser patients today, according to Debbie Moreno, Lodi Memorial’s chief nursing officer.

“Our understanding is it’s a one-day strike,” Moreno said. “We are expecting extra ambulance traffic (today).”

Paul Delehanty, spokesman for the National Union of Healthcare Workers, confirmed that the Kaiser portion of the strike is today only in Northern and Central California. At Southern California hospitals, it’s a two-day strike that began Wednesday, Delehanty said.

Picketing is planned from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Kaiser offices in Stockton, 7373 West Lane, south of Hammer Lane, and at the same time at 6600 Bruceville Road, South Sacramento.

Sutter Health and Children’s Hospital are prepared to bring in replacement nurses, according to officials at each of the hospital groups. Kaiser Permanente says it, too, has made preparations.

The focus of the planned strike is Sutter Health, where contract talks are underway at a number of hospitals.

Management has proposed a broad range of concessions that would affect nurses and patients, union officials say.

“They’ve taken a very hard line,” said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association, which is part of National Nurses United.

In addition to asking nurses to accept thousands of dollars in higher costs for their own health care, Sutter’s proposed concessions would reduce the ability of certain nurses to advocate for patients, cut pay for newly hired nurses, and slash vacations and holiday pay, the union says.

Idelson said the goal of the strike is to get Sutter to withdraw its “unwarranted and unacceptable concession demands.”

Karen Garner, a spokeswoman for Sutter, said the hospital offers its nurses competitive wages and salaries but has an obligation to keep health care costs down for patients.

“The union is choosing to make a sensational statement rather than offer a full picture,” she said.

At Children’s Hospital Oakland, officials are prepared to bring in replacement nurses and have non-unionized nurses assist with patient care, according to hospital spokeswoman Erin Goldsmith. The hospital, which has roughly 730 unionized nurses, has also rescheduled most elective surgeries, she said.

Union members at Children’s Hospital, who have been without a contract for more than a year, have objected to a proposed increase in the cost of a health care plan the hospital offers.

The planned walkout by nurses at Kaiser is intended to show solidarity with other Kaiser employees who are in contract talks and facing demands for cuts in health and retirement benefits, Idelson said. Kaiser Permanente says it is bargaining in good faith and has called the planned nurses’ strike “disruptive to patient care and unnecessary.”

The strike is scheduled for one day, but Sutter Health and Children’s Hospital officials say nurses will not be able to immediately return to work because the hospitals’ contracts with replacement agencies require a minimum number of days of service.

News-Sentinel reporter Ross Farrow contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Luciano Beltran posted at 10:46 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Cobalt25 Posts: 2

    Sad economic times.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 10:01 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Joanne Bobin posted at 7:52 pm on Thu, Sep 22, ...Did you "think so little" of your spouse when she was a teacher and member of the union? I doubt that, Mr. Baumbach - you are way too nice

    Ms Bobin... please take your time and read what I write more carefully. You could avoid drawing erroneous conclusions. As a teacher, my wife was “forced” to belong to the union . She did not choose to join or voluntarily support the union. I was talking about people who join and enthusiastically support the goals and spirit of the union whose members behave like David Diskin stated.
    Ms Bobin... you seem to interpret my posts negatively too often... by now you should know that I have an altruistic and constructive intent ...
    I want fairness and freedom of choice.

  • Kurt Roberts posted at 8:40 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Kurt Roberts Posts: 55


    The top 6 investor owned healthcare companies in the nation are expected to post a record 22% increase in profits for the fiscal year 2010 over 2009. This industry is gouging consumers left and right. They can afford to at the very least, maintain wages and benefits at current levels. To reap obscene profits and the expense of human suffering is immoral.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 7:52 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4301

    Mr. Baumbach wrote: "which is why I think so little of people who support or join unions."

    Did you "think so little" of your spouse when she was a teacher and member of the union? I doubt that, Mr. Baumbach - you are way too nice.

    I think the article stated that patient care was not going to be affected by this one-day demonstration of resistance against a variety of cuts which, if they were affecting all of the nay-sayers here, would not be taken very kindly.

    The cost of healthcare is definitely affected by the pay and benefits received by nurses and other healthcare personnel, but I seriously doubt that personnel is the biggest offender. I seem to remember, when my son was born 25 YEARS AGO, that my husband and I were astounded that the insurance was charged a whopping $25.00 for a 3"x3" piece of gauze used post-circumcision.

    I am sure that most men in this forum would agree that $25.00 is cheap when it comes to caring for the twig and berries, but really? $25.00 - for gauze - 25 years ago? I can go to Target today and buy a whole roll of gauze for less than $4.00!! I would hate to find out what that same supply costs, as charged by a hospital, today.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 5:50 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Hospitals are feeling the pinch of being forced to treat anyone that walks through their doors, whether or not they get paid. There are plenty of deadbeat citizens and non citizens who rack up BILLIONS of dollars worth of unpaid healthcare nationwide. Someone has to pay for these "patients", guess who. YOU and ME, that's who. We get stuck for the cost of these jerks by paying huge bills when we need hospital services. Healthcare is a business. Some are designed to be nonprofit, but most are for profit businesses.Go to the County Hospital in French Camp on any given day and observe the people waiting to be seen in the "emergency" intake. Will open your eyes.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:43 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    What is so mind boggling to me is the fact that unemployment in California exceeds 15% and how precious a job is these days. You've go to be kidding me!

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:06 pm on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    David Diskin posted at 10:21 am on Thu, Sep 22, 2011...And then you would be shunned, mocked, or harassed by your "peers". Sadly, unions can be worse than school-ground bullies sometimes.

    I am afraid David is right... which is why I think so little of people who support or join unions. Imagine, working for free so that patients could receive needed care that resulted in having to hire a body guard.
    Personally, I would take it as a badge of honor to be mocked and shunned by a union thug.

  • posted at 10:31 am on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.


    ..particularly since there's apparently a no strike clause in the contract. So much for keeping one's word....

  • David Diskin posted at 10:21 am on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    David Diskin Posts: 175

    And then you would be shunned, mocked, or harassed by your "peers". Sadly, unions can be worse than school-ground bullies sometimes.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:04 am on Thu, Sep 22, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Great! We can see unions in action. Give us what we want or else. Who cares if
    patients die. If I were a union member, you would not see me strike... I would volunteer my time and work at no pay if possible.



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