On the Picket Line

Santa Monica nurses picket, demand safe staffing

By Bill Arth
August 22, 2022

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Over 60 nurses and supporters held an informational picket outside Providence Saint John’s Health Center here Aug. 1. The registered nurses, members of the California Nurses Association, are in contract negotiations with hospital bosses.

The nurses’ central demand is for higher and safer staffing levels. A poster at the picket showed a list of 181 unfilled job postings, as well as 126 positions filled by “travelers,” temporary nurses hired by the hospital.

Nurses on the picket line described heavy overtime, increased patient loads and shortages of supplies. Many nurses are quitting, making conditions worse.

“Saint John’s needs to recruit and retain nurses. Because of inferior pay and conditions compared to other hospitals, many leave for UCLA or Cedars-Sinai soon after they are trained,” Lizabeth Wade, a member of the union bargaining team, told the Militant. “Because of staffing shortages, management is using new nurses to be in charge in the ICU, which is dangerous.”

Sam Morris, a nurse in the Interventional Radiology Department, said, “The hospital has ambulatory surgery nurses float into the main operating room where they don’t have experience. It’s dangerous for us and the patients.

“The hospital administration is more concerned with staffing areas where they generate the most revenue,” he said. “Understaffing makes everyone suffer.”