Sharp HealthCare nurses cancel strike

Nurses at San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare have called off plans to strike for three days beginning Monday, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The nurses, who are represented by the Sharp Professional Nurses Network, an affiliate of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, canceled their walkout notice Sunday.

In a short statement provided to the The San Diego Union-Tribune, the union confirmed it called off the strike after finding "common ground" related to union dues.

Sharp said each nurse currently employed will continue to decide individually whether they want to pay dues, according to the report, though new hires will be required to start paying within 30 days of hire. However, new hires will have five days to opt out after 90 days of employment, Sharp noted in the report.

John Cihomsky, Sharp's vice president of public affairs, told The San Diego Union-Tribune nurses decided to restart negotiations, and the nurses have agreed not to file another strike notice before Jan. 1. The next negotiating session is scheduled for Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the nurses notified the hospital of their plans to strike for three days beginning Monday.

If the strike had occurred, Mr. Cihomsky told The San Diego Union-Tribune Sharp would have had to declare an "internal disaster" according to its emergency plan. That could have required stroke, heart attack and trauma patients to be diverted to other sites unless a person needed immediate transport to the nearest hospital, he added.

Sharp prepared for a potential walkout by taking steps to reduce patient demand, delaying or speeding up non-emergency treatments so they could be performed before or after the nurses went on strike, according to the report.

In recent months, a key sticking point in negotiations between Sharp and the nurses has been pay.

Nurses have contended large wage increases are needed to prevent their colleagues from moving to other hospitals for better pay, according to a Times of San Diego report. Sharp, for its part, has maintained that the health system's 2015 nurse turnover rates are lower than San Diego, Southern California and state turnover averages.

Nurses have asked for a 31 percent pay raise over the term of the next contract, while Sharp is offering a 16 to 26 percent pay raise over the contract term. The system’s proposed raise would be based on a nurses' experience, advancement and academic degree earned, Sharp officials have said.

The union said in The San Diego Union-Tribune their dispute with Sharp is also about scheduling, retirement benefits and "empowering nurses to take care of patients."


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