Roseville nurses walk picket line

Strike in support of other healthcare workers in contract negotiations
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A few hundred nurses are conducting a sympathy strike outside Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center today to protest how hospital management is seeking sharp concessions from nurses, according to organizers. Nurses at 34 hospitals throughout northern and central California walked out of the job as an act of solidarity with their peers. The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and the California Nurses Association (CNA) — with more than 23,000 members — called for the strike. Kaiser Roseville nurses joined the picket line in support of Sutter Health nurses and the roughly 1,500 hospital workers represented by NUHW, who are in negotiations with Kaiser. That union represents optical workers and behavioral health employees. Sutter nurses at some hospitals currently in negotiations say management is trying to restrict their ability to advocate for patients, reduce their healthcare coverage and retiree health benefits, and cut patient care services. Sutter Health reported more than $1.9 billion in profits last year. Sutter Roseville Medical Center nurses are not impacted by the strike, as they settled a three-year contract earlier this year, said Nancy Turner, communications director for Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region. Kaiser nurses say they also face cuts to their healthcare and retirement plans. “Everyone deserves high-quality healthcare and retirement security, whether you are a registered nurse, another caregiver or any other American. That should be the hallmark of a humane and caring society,” said CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez, a registered nurse, in a news release. Kaiser Senior Vice President of Human Resources Gay Westfall said nurses are striking while negotiations are still in the preliminary stage. “While we recognize NUHW’s legal right to conduct a strike, we believe the bargaining table is the best place to resolve differences,” Westfall said in a prepared statement. “We are bargaining in good faith and will continue to meet with NUHW over the next few weeks, with the goal to reach an agreement soon.” Earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente and CNA negotiated a contract that runs through 2014 and provides nurses with a 2 percent wage increase twice a year, plus a 1 percent annual lump sum payment and no changes to benefits each year for three years. The strike ends at 7 a.m. Friday. ~ Sena Christian