California hospital nurses to protest staffing ratios, missed pay

Eureka, Calif.-based Providence St. Joseph Hospital nurses plan to hold an informational picket Aug. 11 to protest short paychecks and unsafe working conditions based on staff-to-patient ratios, according to the union that represents them.

"After years of asking us to work through a pandemic with insufficient staffing and equipment shortages, Providence has decided to reward their 'heroes' with more short staffing, missed breaks and unpaid wages," Lesley Ester, RN, a nurse at Providence St. Joseph, said in an Aug. 9 news release from the California Nurses Association, which represents 500 nurses at the hospital. "It is past time for Providence to step up and invest in nurses and correctly pay us for our work."

The union said this is not the first time complaints have been filed against Providence. In 2019, the CNA and members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers accused the hospital of focusing more on profits than patient care. 

The union said 20 experienced nurses have left the hospital and most remaining nursing staff have less than one year of experience. Additionally, the CNA said the remaining nurses are pressured to take on extra shifts with more patients and fewer breaks. 

Nurses at the hospital also have said their paychecks have been short since June. 

The hospital said in a statement that the pay discrepancies were caused by a new payroll system. Providence issued an apology to the 207 employees affected by the discrepancies and provided a $500 mitigation payment Aug. 9.

"Our caregivers work selflessly to provide the care that our communities depend on, and we are deeply sorry that we have missed the mark for some individuals or that we created any kind of hardship or anxiety for caregivers and their families," the statement read. "We have been resolving these issues as quickly as we can by researching each discrepancy and running off-cycle paycheck batches, one to two times a day, with the correct retroactive pay."

The hospital's statement added that it is looking into discrepancies that have lingered since the system was upgraded.

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