California nurses agree to delay strike, will receive $1.2M one-time payment

Nurses who work in San Joaquin County's health system in California have agreed to delay a strike that was set to start on Feb. 27.

The nurses, who work at San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp, Calif., and in public health and county jails and clinics, were scheduled to strike from 7 a.m. Feb. 27 to 6:59 a.m. March 2 at the hospital and county administration building.   

However, the San Joaquin County board of supervisors has authorized county administrators to offer nurses represented by the California Nurses Association a one-time payment of $1.2 million as a sign of good faith to avoid a possible strike, Tom Patti, chair of the board of supervisors, said in a Feb. 22 statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review.

Mr. Patti said this delays the strike and allows for a 45-day cooling-off period to give both sides time to negotiate.

The payment is funded by cost savings from delaying the strike and no longer needing temporary staff to replace striking workers.

"The county board and administrators have tremendous respect and appreciation for the work our nurses perform every day. We also acknowledge their work has been made even more challenging as a result of the pandemic," said Mr. Patti.

"It is the county's goal to reach a resolution that does right by our nurses, while also protecting the hospital's and the county's ability to serve the public over the long term, and the county has been at the bargaining table as recently as last week," he said.

The California Nurses Association, which represents nearly 800 nurses in San Joaquin County's health system, said concerns about patient care, staffing and personal protective equipment led to the initial strike decision, and it is pleased to resume talks.

"We nurses are pleased to get back to the bargaining table," Kelly Mertz, a registered nurse at San Joaquin General Hospital, said in a Feb. 22 news release. "It is unconscionable that we nurses have been without a contract for two years. We cannot recruit and retain experienced nurses without a fair contract. We have had 160 nurses leave San Joaquin County's health system since the pandemic began."

Both sides have been negotiating a new contract since November 2018. Amid negotiations, nurses in San Joaquin County's health system went on strike for five days last October, and a no-confidence petition on the performance of San Joaquin General Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Belva Snyder, RN, was delivered to San Joaquin County supervisors and hospital CEO David Culberson Feb. 9. 

The county and union have agreed to return to the bargaining table this week, according to the California Nurses Association. 


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