Five-day walkout at Children’s Hospital Oakland planned for May 5

on April 22, 2011

After nearly a year of contract negotiations, Children’s Hospital Oakland nurses and administrators are at an impasse over benefits and the nurses are now poised for a strike.  They will go back to the bargaining table early next week, but if they don’t come closer to a compromise, they will stage a five-day walkout starting May 5. The strike would be their second in the same contract negotiation cycle; Children’s nurses staged a three-day strike last October.

Liz Jacobs, a spokesperson for California Nurses Association (CNA), the union that represents the nurses at Children’s Hospital, said she thinks most of the nurses at Children’s Hospital would walk out if it comes to a strike.  “They’re very unified,” she said.

If nurses walk out, the hospital would likely hire temporary nurses, redirect managers to do patient care, and cancel elective procedures, said Jacobs.  While the strike would be disruptive to the hospital, Jacobs said patient care would not suffer.

“Nurses have a professional and legal obligation to be patient advocates and not leave patients in jeopardy,” she said.  When CNA nurses strike, she said, they organize a patient protection task force that makes sure specialized nurses are available to leave the picket line and go into the hospital if they are needed during an emergency situation.  “No one’s going to leave anyone in jeopardy,” she said.

Nurses and the hospital administration are at loggerheads over benefits concessions, and the union approved a strike earlier this week.  The hospital wants nurses pay an additional $4,000 a year for healthcare premiums, and wants to eliminate guaranteed weekends off for senior nursing staff.

Erin Goldsmith, a spokesperson for Children’s Hospital Oakland, said that under the proposed agreement, nurses would still have an option for employer-paid care, but would be restricted to using Oakland-based Kaiser as their insurer.  If they wanted non-Kaiser options, they would have to pay either 15 percent of their costs or get a high-deductible PPO, which is the same deal non-union hospital staff have, Goldsmith said. In a press statement, Children’s Hospital said the changes are necessary for the financial viability of the hospital.

But Martha Kuhl, who is on the union’s bargaining team, said the concessions are based on ideology rather than fiscal need. “They have imposed these concessions on non-union workers already and they think it’s a matter of equity that they impose it on union workers,” she said.

She said that, under the proposed deal, if nurses wanted to keep their employer-funded health program, they would not be able to bring their own children to Children’s Hospital, and that’s a major sticking point for the union. “We believe that we give really great care, and nurses with children want to receive that care too,” Kuhl said.

Nurses have to give ten days notice of a walkout, and Kuhl said she hopes both sides can make a compromise before that.  “If we were to start to make good progress we could either delay the date if we weren’t able to get back to the table, or rescind the notice and go back to the members.  We have gone all night before to get a settlement.”

10 Comments

  1. josh on April 23, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Lockout! You heard it here first.



  2. Sherry DeLauder Wight on April 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    As the parent of a critically ill child who has been an inpatient at CHO for a large portion of the past eight months, this is very disappointing. I hope they’re all ready to tell my 4-year old son why they won’t be around to help him for five days while he’s recovering from a brutal round of chemo.



  3. Catherine on April 25, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Nurses in our culture are so underappreciated.

    In this country we pay actors more to see them act,sports stars more to see them play a game, mechanics more to fix our cars and lawyers more to sue McDonalds for spilling coffee on ourselves than we do nurses to care for those we love!
    What is wrong with this picture?

    Instead of complaining and making excuses, hospitals and others should be overly appreciative of the life saving, caring, difficult and stressful work nurses do.



    • Mr Freely on April 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm

      How much money do the nurses at Children earn each year?



      • diane on May 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        I have worked at CHO for 30 years, and let me tell you we are well compensated. Not all of us feel that it is necessary or morally right to walk out on these kids and their families. Times are tough and CNA is out of touch with reality, in my opinion. I will be there working throughout the work stoppage. I know Mrs. Wight’s son, and my heart aches for their family and all the others with very ill children. This action is totally unnecessary.



  4. Gabriel Gilberto on April 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Sherry I believe you either posted without reading the article or read without care. This is from paragraph four: “Nurses have a professional and legal obligation to be patient advocates and not leave patients in jeopardy,” she said. When CNA nurses strike, she said, they organize a patient protection task force that makes sure specialized nurses are available to leave the picket line and go into the hospital if they are needed during an emergency situation. “No one’s going to leave anyone in jeopardy.”



  5. Gabriel Gilberto on April 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I wish your child the speediest of recoveries, but I believe the nurses to be honorable in their struggle and I trust, that if need be, they will attend to your son.



  6. Gabriel Gilberto on April 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Kaiser doctors themselves will admit, after a few drinks, that the Kaiser health model is based on efficiency rather than thorough analysis of patient need. Shame on the management at Children’s Hospital for having the nerve to deny the children of their own employees access to quality medical care.



  7. […] Children’s Hospital nurses still don’t have a contract.  Last week, they said they would start a five-day strike on May 5 if a deal is not reached, and Tuesday was the last scheduled day at the bargaining […]



  8. […] Children’s Hospital nurses still don’t have a contract.  Last week, they pronounced they would start a five-day strike on May 5 if a understanding is not reached, and Tuesday was a final scheduled day during a negotiate […]



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