More than 2,700 Bay Area nurses working at Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have voted to strike after failing to reach a contract agreement. The two sides return to the bargaining table Monday in Palo Alto, Calif.
But the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), which represents the nurses, says if hospital administrators do not raise wages and provide better benefits, they will strike. The union said the 2,764 nurses who voted to strike represent 84% of all CRONA members. Only 49 voted no and 490 did not cast a vote.
A union statement said the bargaining team will work in good faith with the hospitals and a federal mediator on Monday and Tuesday, "But if the hospitals will not agree to a competitive compensation package and work-life protections, nurses can count on, we will go on strike."
According to a local news station, a Stanford hospital spokesman that, "The hospitals remain committed to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement."
CRONA members have walked off the job twice before. In 1974, the union led a strike that lasted nine days. A strike in 2000 lasted 50 days.
The union will give the hospitals 10 days notice -- as required by law -- to prepare for any strike.
The nurses say the planned expansion of Lucille Packard will require over 500 new nurses and without more competitive wages, applicants might be scared off by the cost of living in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive areas in the country.
"CRONA knows that without improved compensation and better working conditions, it'll be University of Califronia San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente recruiting the top nursing talent in the Bay Area. The better compensation and working conditions they offer are already impacting our retention rates," the union said in an online statement.
Lucile Packard is in the midst of a $1.1 billion, 521,000-square-foot expansion that is expected to open in 2017.
But there's a nursing shortage across the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 1.2 million openings for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.