The New York State Nurses Association also announced Thursday a planned strike on Jan. 3 at 711-bed St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan. Their contract expired in December 2010, and union officials said there have been 25 bargaining sessions. The NYSNA represents 1,300 nurses.
Meanwhile, sick days are an issue in Houston at 181-bed Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center. NNU-backed nurses held a news conference on Thursday about concerns regarding the hospital's flu policy, saying it forces nurses to work while sick, contributing to an unsafe environment for nurses and patients.
Union officials in California said they want to maintain the terms of the most recent contract. Sutter officials once more stated that full-time registered nurses earn an average of $136,000 annually, and their pensions would pay them an average of $84,000 a year. Sutter also disputed the union's estimates of how many nurses participated in the strikes.
Replacement nurses were hired with two-day contracts, Sutter officials said. While union nurses said they are ready to return to work Friday, many will have to wait until Saturday, Christmas Eve. Union officials called that a lockout. Many of the same nurses held a one-day strike in September. Sutter officials that month hired replacement nurses to five-day contracts, delaying the return of union workers. This time, with Christmas on the horizon, firms representing the replacement nurses wanted to stay at home for the holiday, and so only two-day contracts were agreed upon.
Sutter officials ripped the union for the timing of the strike. Holding it near Christmas ignores the holidays-amplified stress suffered by patients and families, Sutter officials argued. NNU officials countered and said while no time is ideal for a strike, there are fewer patients and scheduled procedures during this time of year.
During the September work stoppage, a 68-year-old female cancer patient died at 408-bed Alta Bates, and officials blamed a replacement nurse's error. The California Department of Public Health is investigating, but didn't have any update on their probe. The death catalyzed both sides, as the California Hospital Association and NNU mentioned the death in news releases blaming the other side for the tragedy.