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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — About 3,200 registered nurses at seven hospitals managed by Sutter Health in the East Bay are planning a one-day strike on Thursday to protest concessions that they say Sutter management is demanding.
The strike will be the sixth in a series of strikes by members of the California Nurses Association over contracts that have been under negotiation for about 18 months. The most recent strike was on July 3.
Union spokeswoman Joanne Jung said nurses will strike to protest concessions demanded by management such as eliminating paid sick days, requiring nurses to pay for health care for themselves and their families and eliminating retiree health plans.
Jung said the one-day walkout will occur at three Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.
The union said the strike will involve about 3,200 registered nurses as well as several hundred respiratory technicians, X-ray technicians and other technicians.
Sutter spokesman Bill Gleeson said nurses who work at Sutter’s Bay Area hospitals are highly paid, earning an average of $136,000 per year and pensions of up to $84,000 annually, but union leaders “are demanding new, costly benefits, such as double-digit wage increases and free health care for life which will increase costs at our hospitals by tens of millions of dollars each year.”
However, Jung said, “Wages and pensions are not at issue” in the lengthy bargaining talks. Instead, she said nurses are fighting “proposals that limit their voice” and limit their ability to advocate for their patients.
But Gleeson said, “Our hospitals have negotiated in good faith and have offered contracts that balance our obligation to provide competitive wages and benefits for nurses and reduce our costs so we’re more affordable to patients.”
Gleeson said, “quality patient care will continue” during the strike because Sutter will bring in replacement nurses.
He said, “The Sutter Health family of hospitals will be open around the clock, providing the best possible care to patients.”
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)