Northern California healthcare workers strike over understaffing, COVID protocols and pay

Workers allege staff shortages and a lack of PPE stocks.

More … than 8,000 Northern California nurses and healthcare workers are planning an all-day strike Monday over staffing and other COVID-19 issues.

Employees of Sutter Health, a healthcare delivery system headquartered in Sacramento, plan to strike at 15 facilities, including Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Vallejo, between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

According to a press release from the California Nurses’ Association, a union, workers are protesting concerns over staffing shortages as well as health and safety protections they say put patients and staff at risk. hazard.

CNA said nurses voted to strike in March and alerted Sutter Health of the picket plans 10 days in advance.

“We have repeatedly tried to address the chronic and widespread problem of staff shortages that cause delays in care and potentially put patients at risk, but hospital administrators continue to ignore us,” Amy Erb, a critical care nurse who works for Sutter’s California Pacific Medical. Center in San Francisco, said in a statement.

The statement continued: “We have a moral and legal obligation to stand up for our patients. We stand up for them at the bedside, at the bargaining table and, if we must, on the strike line.”

Additionally, the workers alleged that Sutter Health failed to provide its workers with enough personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic and refused to invest in inventory, ignoring California’s PPE inventory law. .

Staff also said the health network did not conduct contact tracing after positive cases were reported among staff.

In addition to getting Sutter to address their concerns, the workers are trying to negotiate higher wages. Sutter Health told KCRA 3 in a statement, it offers competitive salaries and pandemic protections.

“They resist having nurses directly involved in policy planning and implementation that affects us all during a pandemic,” Renee Water, a neurotrauma intensive care unit nurse at Sutter, said in a statement. communicated. “A fair contract is necessary to retain experienced nurses, have sufficient staff and training, and ensure we have the resources to provide safe and effective care to our patients”

The union said nurses and other healthcare workers have been negotiating with Sutter for a new contract since June 2021 with little progress.

Sutter sent a statement to ABC News, saying he was disappointed with the strike and calling it “disruptive” and “expensive.”

“In moving forward with today’s costly and disruptive strike, union leaders have made it clear that they are prepared to put politics above the patients and nurses they represent, despite the intervention of federal mediators and our willingness to negotiate in good faith under the threat of a strike,” said the health network.

The statement continued: “Our focus is on providing safe, high-quality care to the patients and communities we are honored to serve. We are confident in our ability to manage this disruption. We hope that AIIC shares our desire to reach an agreement. and allow our nurses to focus again on the patients the union has asked them to step away from. »

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