Dignity Health nurses plan 10-day strike

More than 1,300 registered nurses from Dignity Health hospitals in Southern California plan to strike for 10 days beginning Aug. 30, unless a contract agreement is reached, according to the union that represents them.

The strike would occur at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, Calif., Northridge (Calif.) Hospital Medical Center and St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo, Calif.

Registered nurses at the facilities say patient safety is hindered by unsafe staffing, poor hospital security and dangerous working conditions, Service Employees International Union Local 121RN stated in a news release. They claim Dignity Health has not addressed the issues.

"Nurses want to work in safe hospitals, and we want to provide quality care for our patients," said Gayle Batiste, RN, SEIU Local 121RN president and operating room nurse at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. "We can't do that when we're dangerously understaffed and dealing with security breaches in our hospitals. If we need to go on strike to force Dignity Health to fix those problems, we will. We're prepared to do that."

Both sides have been in negotiations since April.

San Francisco-based Dignity Health stressed that the health system values employees and wants to reach an agreement that is fair to the registered nurses, the health system and patients.

"Throughout these negotiations we have shown respect for our employees and we will continue to bargain in good faith. We have made fair and reasonable proposals that reflect our commitment to provide competitive wages and benefits for our employees," Dignity Health told Becker's Hospital Review. "As these proposals are considered and bargaining continues, we pledge to maintain open lines of communication and do everything we can to reach an agreement."

The health system also expressed disappointment in the strike plans. Hospital officials said the facilities will remain open during any walkout, and that Dignity Health is "taking appropriate steps to ensure safe and effective staffing levels." The health system said it may be necessary to reschedule elective procedures and nonemergency visits during a strike.


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