Nurses at LA-area hospital launch 10-day strike

Members of SEIU 121RN launched a 10-day strike Aug. 18 at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, Calif., over what they say is short staffing and faulty equipment at the facility.

The union represents about 355 nurses at the hospital, which is owned by Alhambra Hospital Medical Center, according to a union news release shared with Becker's.

Union members are expected to strike through Aug. 27. They contend that they face "chronic unsafe staffing due to high turnover that has reached crisis proportions." They also allege that  substandard equipment and inadequate workplace hazard policies are contributing to decreased morale, and that existing security practices are inadequate to prevent the flow of weapons into the hospital. 

"Nurses are required to search patients’ belongings and confiscate weapons, which nurses say puts them at undue risk and distracts from patient care," the union release said.

Garfield Medical Center has retained replacement nurses during the strike and is disappointed about the strike action, the hospital said in a statement shared with the Los Angeles Times.

The hospital also pushed back against the union's allegations.  

Staffing levels and the condition of equipment at the hospital has not compromised care for patients, the hospital said, according to the Los Angeles Times. It also said nurses had the equipment needed to provide safe patient care, that it had made efforts to protect its workers from violence, and that nationwide nurse shortages were affecting hospitals across the U.S., including Garfield Medical Center, which had offered sign-on bonuses and held job fairs to attract new workers.

"We believe the union is being disingenuous about its real reason for calling this strike," the hospital said in its statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. "What it really comes down to is money," specifically a proposed pay increase the union had rejected.

Read the full Los Angeles Times report here.

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