Thursday, July 5, 2012
Registered nurses at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley went on strike Tuesday to protest more than 100 proposed reductions to their existing contracts.
Beginning at 7 a.m., dozens of picketers gathered at both Berkeley Alta Bates campuses as part of demonstrations that took place at a total of seven hospitals operated by the Sutter Health Corporation across the Bay Area. The strikes have been recurring since contract negotiations between nurses and the health care provider began in May 2011.
“Despite having a $4.2 billion profit in the last fiscal year, Sutter is trying to squeeze (more money) out of the nurses and other employees who are without a contract just to add to their bottom line,” said Thorild Urdal, a registered nurse at Alta Bates Summit in Berkeley for over 27 years.
According to the strikers, the proposed cutbacks include $18 salary cuts for new nurses, cutting sick leave for nurses, forcing nurses to work in hospital areas in which they do not have expertise and health coverage cuts for nurses, among others. Nurses at the strike said these cutbacks will hurt not only nurses but patients.
Of the 100 proposed reductions, the most prominent is the end to paid sick leave, according to Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, another registered nurse at Alta Bates Summit in Berkeley.
Nurses caring for sick patients while sick themselves is counter-intuitive, Pardue-Okimoto said.