OAKLAND (CBS SF) — More than 100 nurses and other medical staff picketed outside Children’s Hospital Oakland Thursday as part of a five-day strike that began this morning in protest of a proposed decrease in their employer-covered health care expenses.

The strike was called because hospital management recently presented the nurses with a proposal that would cost them thousands of dollars more each year for health care benefits for their families.

Under one option in the proposed plan, nurses would have to pay about 15 percent of yearly medical expenses in a monthly co-pay system. This would mean they would pay about $4,000 more each year to utilize health care for their families at Children’s Hospital, spokeswoman Erin Goldsmith said.

Right now, the nurses do not make any contributions to plans that provide their family health care at Children’s Hospital, Goldsmith said.

Administrators are also offering two other health care options in the disputed proposal.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

The second option is a health maintenance organization plan that uses Kaiser and that is fully paid by the hospital, Goldsmith said.

The last option is a preferred provider organization plan, but with a high deductible paid by employees, she said.

The hospital proposed a change in the health care plan to the California Nurses Association , which represents the nurses, last May before the previous three-year contract expired in July, Bayer said.

The union, which represents about 750 nurses at the hospital, engaged in negotiations until October, when the nurses felt they reached an impasse. The nurses then picketed for three days, said Deborah Bayer, who has been a nurse at the hospital since 1987.

“We thought we had to get their attention. We weren’t going to accept that kind of treatment,” she said.

Administrators made similar proposals with health care reductions until April, when nurses again felt like they were not making progress and announced they were planning Thursday’s strike.

Goldsmith said the medical center was aware of the planned strike and that administrators will continue negotiations after it ends, but that there have been no plans to revise the proposal made to CNA.

She said about 30 percent of people who planned to strike instead crossed the picket line and they are working today. Most of those who are picketing are not receiving pay.

“We did reschedule elective surgeries until after the strike, but we’re open for emergency and trauma-related surgeries,” she said.

Goldsmith also emphasized that administrators are sticking to an earlier claim that nurses at the hospital earn an average of about $67 per hour.

“The nurses aren’t happy that number is out there, but it’s a fact,” she said.

That figure is calculated based on nurses who work 40 hours each week, Goldsmith said.

“A lot of nurses don’t work 40 hours a week. They can afford to not work that much,” she said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (21)
  1. StrikeOut says:

    Fire ’em all!!! Hire permanent replacements. Voters are sick of unions trying to hold us hostage!!!

  2. Susan says:

    We just don’t care about unions striking any more. If you don’t belong to a union, you have been paying most of your healthcare for quite some time. Eventually employers will no longer bare the cost of healthcare, they will make employees pay for it entirely. So stop whining, and get to work!

    1. Chloe T. says:

      Many of us do care about unions striking, so don’t think you speak for everyone.

  3. Strikeon says:

    Stikeout, go try and hire 800 children’s nurses and tell me what you get when you take your child to CHO. I bet no have no problem with the CFO at CHO making $515,000 do you?

  4. APPRECIATE! says:

    Replace em all.. There are plenty of RNS in need of a job right now and I bet they’ll take a job regardless of the benefits. These people are spoiled! Be happpy you dont pay the full cost of benefits.

  5. Brownbear says:

    Let them all go… People now is wishing just to have a job and they are going on strike for ridiculous reasons. From what i heard they make 62 an hour or more thats more then half the population in the bay area. Others buy medicare with only 17 an hour. People don’t think before they do things, let them all go for them to realize that they got it better then others!

    1. beInformed says:

      The $62 is the average nurse, which includes all nurses including MANAGEMENT nurses. Management nurses are not striking. The hospital wants nurses to pay for private insurance (where the nurse would take her child to a private medical office-not like Kaiser. If her child needs to be hospitalized, she would be admitted to Children’s Hospital. So if she works at Children’s Hospital. She would have to pay for that hospitalization. If she choses to have Kaiser insurance, it would be free? That doesn’t make any sense.
      Nurses are in the working class as many others. They just aren’t going to let the CEO’s and management get richer. I’d support the struggle of everyday people.

  6. Little Nick says:

    It takes a special person to be a pediatric nurse, it’s not a job just any RN can do.

  7. StrikeOut says:

    Nice grammar Strike-con. “I bet no have no problem.”

    Only the union members like you Clueless T.

  8. BayAreaMom says:

    These people are ridiculous. There are children in that hospital dying of horrible diseases, burns, abuse, and just basically suffering…and the nurses are walking out because their free healthcare isn’t good enough? And their “preferred” healthcare will cost them $300, which is still less than most people pay for a flippin’ HMO?! They make $50-$60 an hour. In less than one shift, their top-notch medical care is paid for. Times are tough for EVERYONE, we are all having to pony up and make sacrifices. Yes, everyone NEEDS healthcare, but that doesn’t entitle anyone to FREE healthcare, especially a plan that would cost the average joe, who doesn’t make nearly the same money, twice what these nurses would pay. IMO, every single person standing on that picket line should submit their resignation and go work somewhere else. OCH needs nurses that care about their patients, not self-absorbed people with an overblown sense of entitlement.

    1. beasthil says:

      I totally agree

    2. BayAreaDad says:


    3. BayAreaMan says:

      What is BayAreaMom doing for the weekend? hehehehehehe.

    4. SupportNurses says:

      And your a mother? Pediatric Nurses are highly skilled and very tough profession. These nurses at Children’s Hospital Oakland are an asset to the community. They deserve to be compensated at bay area standards in order to provide our kids with excellent services. Its funny how the management is able to provide the Nurses with a 100% health plan through Kaiser, but not Children’s. If only Nurses at Children’s are able to bring their kids to the place they work, we wont be having this discussion. We expect these Nurses to take care of our kids yet how do you suppose they should be taking care of their own kids. The Hospitals like any other corporations, will always take advantage of the “tough” economic times as an excuse, yet the healthcare industry is suppose to be immune to this. SF Chronicle sites that according to IRS filing, CHO profited $6.9 million in 2009, only for the Hospital to deny such claim when the source is coming from the IRS. Hospital should release the salaries of the CEO’s CFO’s and other high ranking management position and let the public decide on this issue. I’m sure during these “tough economic difficulty” that their salaries and benefits have not decrease, and most likely increased.

  9. beasthil says:

    They should be let go. Aren’t they suppose want to help people first and above all. If they have to pay for something themselves, so what.
    They should not be in a profession where they take care of people, perhaps they should work in Wall Street.
    They truly should feel ashamed of themselves, I have not compassion for any of them.

  10. CL Taylor says:

    I totally support the nurses out on strike at Oakland Children’s Hospital. The service that they provide is no different than what policemen and firemen provide…they all protect human life. It is not easy to replace firemen and policemen; these nurses, too, are not replaced easily by just another RN. Management has always made sure that their own healthcare and monetary rewards are top dollar. Without quality nurses, management’s high salaries would disappear. The nurses also had to fight for better nurse to patient ratios. Seems management is out of touch with quality care. The nurses’ healthcare insurance should be nothing but the best so that these nurses can continue to provide the excellent care they have been giving.

  11. Catherine says:

    Funny how nurses seem to have little value in society based on some of the comments I see here.
    If it were a sports star asking for 2 million, no one would bat an eye.
    If it were a lawyer being paid $150-200/hour to sue McDonalds over spilling hot coffee in your own lap no one would blink an eye.
    If it were an actor making 3 million to do a movie, no one would blink an eye.
    Yet a nurse who makes about $40-50/hr to care for someone you love and it’s a huge deal.
    We will all need a nurse some day, remember that.
    YOU be a nurse for a day and see what it takes.
    Until then, it is you who are selfish.

    1. T says:

      I support the CHO nurses 100%. My daughter was at CHO for about 5 months and was treated with extraordinary care. It is a TOUGH job and if you ask me $62 isn’t enough pay for not only what they do, but how well they do it. It’s so unfortunate how backwards we can be sometimes. Teachers and nurses should be some of the highest paid professionals.

  12. whiners go home! says:

    nurses and teachers are the laziest whiners around. if they don’t like their job, they should quit and go do something else.

  13. Rudy says:

    Our values as a society are out of whack sometimes. These skilled workers deserve the compensation they earn. If the hospital was unable to make ends meet then I could understand cuts to medical for employees. The reality is that they made a profit so why not keep competitive wages for public safety professionals?? Union RN’s are one of the last voices for healthcare and patient rights. When is the last time a hospital CEO did anything but take a raise?? I SUPPORT the nurses.

  14. Steve says:

    In reply to “BayAreaMom”. “these people” as you call them are the ones we
    turn to when out children are sick with horrible diseases. Are ‘these people” and the children on “these people” immune to the horrible diseases that their parents are exposed to and expected to cure, and therefore should not be allowed
    to choose their own health care providers? Yes, “everyone NEEDS healthcare”
    and nurses’ families do too. Look at the statistics of non-paying recipients at Children’s Hospital Oakland before comments about “FREE healthcare” for nurses. What price should nurses pay for health care when they are exposed daily to such horrible diseases as tuberculosis, HIV, AIDS, hepatitisA, B, and C, Whooping Cough. Herpes, Meningitis, Strep infections and more. Nurses are the “average Joes” cleaning the vomit, urine, blood, feces of your loved ones. At what potential health cost to themselves? What kind of health care should be given to people who wear an N-1 respirator 8 hours at work? What kind of hospital would deny the same expert care and attention to it’s employees that it expects the employees to give to your child’s life? How dare you say that “every single person should submit their resignation and go work somewhere else”. And just what part of “Top notch medical care” should they be denied for working with the “children dying of horrible diseases”? Who pays for them when they become ill? Or is it a matter of who cares, just replace them? Would you do their job. could you? . “Overblown since of entiitement” Sounds like a self-proclamation of guilt, but of course, you are “entitled” to your opinion.

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