7K nurses at 15 HCA hospitals vote to authorize strike

Registered nurses at 15 hospitals affiliated with Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare have voted to authorize their nurse negotiators to call a strike if issues the nurses have raised in ongoing contract negotiations remain unresolved.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee said Sept. 4 that the nurses are urging hospital management to address several issues, including nurse turnover rates. The nurses also want the hospitals to create a process to consistently comply with hospital staffing grids.

The 15 hospitals that voted to authorize the strike are in Florida, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Nevada, and have a total workforce of 7,000 RNs.

"With this strike authorization vote, nurses are making it absolutely clear that we are ready to strike to ensure optimal care for our patients," said Jack Hood, an RN at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, Fla., one of the hospitals included in the strike authorization vote. "From Florida to Nevada, we are united in our commitment to negotiating a contract that provides solutions to the issues we are raising, including turnover, recruitment and retention, and consistent compliance with staffing grids."

The strike authorization vote does not mean the nurses will go on strike, but it gives them the option to do so if they feel the issues they've raised aren't being addressed. If the nurses move forward with a strike, they will provide hospital management 10 days' notice to help ensure facilities can make appropriate preparations, according to the National Nurses Organizing Committee.

An HCA spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times it's common for talk of strikes to emerge during contract negotiations.

"We have bargaining dates scheduled later this month and we look forward to the union's response to the proposal we provided to them back in July," the spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times. "We want to assure our community that neither this — nor any other action — will ever come between us and our commitment to the high-quality care and services we offer our patients and this community on a daily basis."

See a full list of the hospitals that approved the strike authorization here.

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