The first work stoppage began early Wednesday morning at three Southern California hospitals, coordinated by the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United. They targeted three Kaiser facilities: Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center; Kaiser Fontana Medical Center; and Kaiser San Diego Medical Center. Union officials estimate 2,500 nurses are on the picket line. They've been negotiating for about a year and a half, union officials said.
Kaiser officials said their facilities would remain open during the strikes.
Thursday's strikes target 34 hospitals in Northern and Central California. Kaiser nurses will again be involved, and so will nurses from Sutter Health, along workers from Children's Hospital & Research Center in Oakland. Union officials estimate 23,000 registered nurses will participate.
Nurses at Sutter are angry at 200 concessions, including elimination of paid sick leave, which union officials said would force nurses to work when sick. Sutter officials said they're offering 40 paid days off a year. Nurses are also protesting cutbacks on health insurance and benefits. Nine Sutter hospitals are in negotiations with the CNA.
“We are disappointed that union leaders have chosen this action,” a Sutter spokesman said.
Each Sutter hospital negotiates its own contract. The Sutter spokesman said RNs participating in the strike earn an average of $136,000 annually, and their pensions are worth on an average of $84,000 a year.
“Nurses across our network are respected, influential members of our health care team—many holding positions on our decision-making councils related to delivering the highest levels of quality care,” the spokesman added.
Union officials are calling the pickets at Kaiser hospitals a sympathy strike supporting coworkers facing cuts in health insurance and retirement plans.
Nurses at Children's Hospital in Oakland are also upset about health insurance coverage that the unions say would prevent nurses' children from receiving care at the hospital where the nurses work. They've been in negotiations since May 2010.