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Vol. 78/No. 4      February 3, 2014

California hospital nurses
protest layoffs, outsourcing
BERKELEY, Calif. — “No staffing, no peace,” chanted nurses picketing here Jan. 15 against layoffs, outsourcing and cutbacks in patient care at two hospitals owned by Sutter Health in Berkeley and Oakland.

The nurses say the company is violating the contract it signed with the union at two Alta Bates Summit Medical Center hospitals three months ago. The contract was won after nine short strikes at Sutter hospitals by the California Nurses Association over the last two years.

“Management settled with the union and then turned around and did this!” physical therapist Mary Biagini told the Militant. Management is closing the postoperative nursing unit where Biagini works and instead sending patients to nursing homes for treatment. “It’s not just the nurses, but the patients who will suffer from this,” Biagini said.

The hospital is also closing the infusion unit for cancer patients, shifting the treatment to a facility staffed with lower-paid nonunion nurses. The oncology unit as well is being closed.

According to a press release from the Nurses Association, “Alta Bates plans to conduct a unilateral, sweeping … restructuring scheme demanding RNs rebid on newly created positions that may come with very few hours.”

“We are already short-staffed, yet they are reducing the workforce,” nurse Laura Rutherford told the Militant.

“We have to stand up and fight back, not just for ourselves and not just for what’s going on now,” Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, a nurse in the newborn intensive care unit, told pickets. “We have to think about the next generation.”

The Nurses Association said Jan. 9 that Sutter CEO Pat Fry received “a whopping one-year increase of 22 percent in 2012 from 2011, pushing his annual pay package to $6,393,883” while moving to cut hospital staff.
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