More than 8,000 nurses and healthcare workers at 15 Sutter Health sites in California are on a one-day strike Monday over concerns about staffing levels and health and safety precautions.
The strike will run until 6:59 a.m. local time Tuesday, according to a news release issued by the California Nurses Association.
Workers represented by the association, which is an affiliate of National Nurses United, and by association affiliate Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union will picket at various times Monday, the unions said.
In a statement, Sutter Health said it is confident it can "manage this disruption."
"By moving forward with today's costly and disruptive strike, union leadership has made it clear they are willing to put politics above patients and the nurses they represent, despite the intervention of federal mediators and our willingness to bargain in good faith while under threat of a strike," Sutter Health said.
The union's contract expired July 31 and had multiple interim extensions, but staff now are working without a contract, a Sutter Health spokesperson said.
The union has been in contract negotiations with Sutter Health since June and there has been "little to no movement on key issues," the union said in the news release. Workers conducted strike authorization votes in March and gave the health system advance notice, the union said.
The union is asking Sutter Health for safe staffing levels and to take pandemic preparation actions, such as creating personal protective equipment stockpiles.
"Nurses overwhelmingly voted to go out on strike because we see no other option left for us and our patients. We have tried repeatedly to address the chronic and widespread problem of short staffing that causes delays in care and potentially puts patients at risk, but hospital administrators continue to ignore us," Amy Erb, a registered nurse at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and a member of the union's board of directors, said in the news release.
The Sutter Health workers' strike comes a week after other California healthcare workers announced plans to strike in May. Service Employees Union International-United Healthcare Workers West, which represents 2,000 workers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, voted to authorize their bargaining teams to call a strike after their contract with the not-for-profit hospital ended March 31.