Sutter Heath Nurses, Staff To Stage Strike Monday In Santa Rosa, Calif.
Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
More than 8,000 nurses and other health care workers at 15 Sutter Health medical facilities across Northern California, including in Santa Rosa, are planning to strike Monday in hopes of moving along contract negotiations.
"We're striking to try to keep our retirement and benefits, to make sure we're safe with enough protective equipment and to have the proper staffing so we don't put our licenses at risk," said a nurse who works for Sutter Health in Santa Rosa who did not want to give his name in fear of retaliation.
Nurses have been working without a contract since June, and ongoing negotiations with Sutter representatives have not been fruitful, according to a news release from the California Nurses Association.
The Santa Rosa arm of the union voted two weeks ago to strike, with 99% in favor. On April 8, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital was given a 10-day strike notice, according to the nurse.
Workers are urging management to invest in COVID-19 protections, such as the addition of PPE, increased staff and being heard on matters concerning safety, according to the association.
Picketing is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.
Sutter Health officials want the union to call off the planned strike, Angie Sheets, a spokeswoman for the organization, said in an email Saturday evening.
"We are hopeful that our continued willingness to bargain in good faith will encourage the union to call off this costly and disruptive strike and instead work toward an agreement that recognizes our nurses for their important work while maintaining the strength and stability of our hospitals for all who depend upon us," Sheets said.
Though replacement workers have been hired, hospitals have had to cancel some surgeries and procedures and are discharging patients, according to the nurse, who said he has been working for Sutter Health for 12 years. Sutter did not confirm or comment on those details Saturday evening.
Sutter has proposed decreasing insurance benefits and retirement packages, as well as changing current staffing practices to allow nurses from different pods to go to any department where a nurse is needed, regardless of their specialty, the nurse explained.
"It could be like maternity nurses going to treat patients on the oncology floor," he said. "They would have no idea how to take care of those patients. We feel that is completely unsafe."
Request for comment from the California Nurses Association was not immediately returned Saturday evening.