Children’s Hospital Oakland RNs Authorize Strike, Cite Management Demands To Slash Healthcare Benefits
Registered nurses from Children’s Hospital Oakland, voted overwhelmingly this week to authorize their nurse negotiators to call a three-day strike if necessary to protest ongoing management efforts to sharply reduce healthcare coverage for nurses and their families.
No date has been set for a strike, and additional contract talks are scheduled over the next two weeks.
The nurses say the unwarranted changes would leave Children’s RNs far below community standards offered by other Bay Area hospitals, seriously undermining the ability of the hospital to retain experienced RNs and recruit new nurses needed for children served by the hospital.
Further, the nurses, who are represented by the California Nurses Association, charge that Children’s management is trying to push the costs of its bad management practices on to the backs of nurses and other employees with sharp reductions in healthcare coverage. Last month, more than 200 RNs and other hospital employees, who the hospital also wants to penalize with healthcare cuts, picketed the hospital.
“Generations of nurses worked hard to win the standards we have today, especially here at Children’s Hospital,” said emergency room RN Anna Smith, one of the nurse negotiators. “My generation is not going to lead the way turning the clock back. Hands off our healthcare.”
“Cutting health benefits for nurses, other hospital workers, and our families is an unfair and unnecessary way for the Hospital to make up for years of bad management,” said Martha Kuhl, CNA treasurer and a hematology-oncology RN at Children’s.
Children’s concession demands are proposed in bargaining for a new collective bargaining agreement. The hospital wants to dramatically increase costs for the existing health plans in an effort to steer everyone into a single plan and out of the plan most RNs are in, disrupting long-standing relationships with medical providers, the nurses say.
The hospital spent $8.9 million on compensation in 2008 for the 26 top administrators, including social club memberships and $560,000 in severance pay for two short-term executives, yet would “save” less than $2 million a year from its punitive healthcare takeaways, an indication of distorted priorities and poor management practices, says CNA.
California Nurses Foundation