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Nurses at 9 Bay Area hospitals go on day strike

Thousands of nurses at nine San Francisco Bay area hospitals walked off the job on the morning of Christmas Eve—a day a hospital spokeswoman described as a time when "only the sickest of the sick are in the hospital."Registered nurses and technicians at seven hospitals operated by Sutter Health and at two San Jose hospitals affiliated with the Hospital Corporation of America went on a one-day strike at 7 a.m. Monday, said hospital officials and representatives with the California Nurses Association.

As in the previous strikes, both sides traded barbs, disagreeing over the need for a strike, the number of nurses who refused to show up for work and the quality of care the replacement nurses would provide.

"We are deeply disappointed the union is taking nurses away from the bedside, particularly during the holiday season, when only are sickest patients are with us," said Carolyn Kemp, a spokeswoman for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, one of the Sutter facilities hit by the strike.

"They may be critical of us, but no nurse wants to strike," Jung said. "Management has given us no alternative."

As in previous strikes, the hospitals brought in replacement nurses to fill in for striking nurse, but unlike past strikes, returning nurses won't be "locked out" and will be able to return to work at Sutter's facilities when the one-day strike ends, Kemp said.

The walkout by the nurses joined a growing list of recent strikes by workers represented by other unions in California, including an eight-day walk-off by clerical workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors that stalled billions of dollars of cargo and left container ships stranded off the California coast.

Also last month, a one-day strike by custodians and electrical workers shut down the Port of Oakland, workers at West Sacramento-based grocery chain Raley's walked off the job — the first strike in the company's 77-year-history — and nurses at Sonoma County's Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital walked off the job for three days.
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