Nurses at San Francisco's Chinese Hospital strike

Registered nurses at Chinese Hospital in San Francisco have begun a one-day strike to protest what they view as substandard workplace and economic conditions, according to hospital and union statements. 

The strike began at 7:30 a.m. May 25 and is scheduled to end at 7:29 a.m. May 26.

Striking members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United are practicing social distancing, and a limited number of nurses are participating in each part of the day's activities, the union said. Activities include picketing outside the hospital, a march to Portsmouth Square in the city's Chinatown area, and a Zoom rally. 

The hospital said it will remain open and ready to serve the community during the walkout. 

"Our goal has always been to serve our Chinatown community, which has had to endure so much, including horrible physical attacks," CEO Jian Zhang, DNP, said in a May 25 news release. "The CNA strike is just the latest obstacle we face. But Chinese Hospital will never waiver from its mission of being the people's hospital."

As a precaution, the hospital will have extra security on hand to ensure the safety of patients and employees, it said. The hospital said it also took steps to have other nurses available to take the "handoff" between day shift and night shift nurses so that striking nurses would not have to work the first 30 minutes of their day shift — from 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. — and then leave for the picket line.

The union, which represents more than 100 nurses at the facility, has been in negotiations with the hospital since February 2020. 

Union members contend substandard workplace and economic conditions have driven away experienced nurses and negatively affect the hospital's ability to recruit new workers and that the hospital has refused to provide bedside nurses with adequate meal and break relief. 

"For the past year, we've given Chinese Hospital numerous proposals aimed at improving staffing, patient care and retention of nurses for our patients and our community," Sherry Yee, RN, said in a May 20 news release. "Instead, the hospital administration has failed to create a better working environment that allows us to provide proper care for our patients to the best of our ability."

The hospital called the strike "misguided" and said it has offered union members a generous proposal that includes average wage increases of 6.4 percent. 

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