Nurses strike at 2 California hospitals

Nurses at two California hospitals walked off the job March 12 over issues arising from the recent sale of the facilities to Santa Clara County, according to local television station KTVU.

The county purchased financially struggling San Jose, Calif.-based O'Connor Hospital and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy, Calif., in December.

As part of the sale, the 482 nurses at O'Connor Hospital and the 200 nurses at St. Louise Regional Hospital previously represented by the California Nurses Association must join a rival union, the Registered Nurses Professional Association, according to the report.

Nurses are striking to urge county officials to designate the CNA as their sole negotiating party. They also allege to the California Public Employment Relations Board that the county illegally threatened to retaliate against nurses, and they are asking the board to uphold the nurses' right to hold this week's "lawful recognition strike."

"We have an obligation to speak out for our patients and to fight for the best patient care possible," Nancy Kumar, an emergency room nurse at O'Connor Hospital, said in a news release announcing the strike. "The nurses at O'Connor and at St. Louise democratically elected CNA because it is a strong union with a track record of improving patient care. We have a legal right to respond to the county's unfair labor practices with a strike."

County Executive Jeffrey Smith called the strike "unlawful" and said the CNA has not made necessary efforts to be designated the sole negotiating party for the nurses.

In a statement obtained by KTVU, Mr. Smith said: "The county respects the right of its employees to select the organization of their choice for purposes of representation.  The California Nurses Association does not currently represent any county employees, nor has it taken any of the steps necessary to become the lawful representative of any county employees

"Instead, it is using an unlawful strike in its dispute with other unions that represent the county employees at O'Connor and Saint Louise hospitals, trying to force the county to ignore its obligations to those unions," Mr. Smith said.

He said the county has worked to ensure hospital operations are not affected by the one-day strike, which is scheduled to end at 6:59 a.m. March 13.


More articles on human capital and risk: 

Kaiser to outsource landscaping at Northern California facilities
UVM Medical Center technicians ratify contract
University of California patient care workers say they'll join March 20 strike


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