800 Children's Hospital Oakland Nurses to Walk the Picket Line as Strike Begins Oct. 12

For Immediate Release
October 11, 2010
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“Management will not take away our healthcare!”
800 registered nurses from Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO) will hit the picket line Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7 a.m. to launch a three-day strike over management’s efforts to slash the healthcare benefits that nurses receive, the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced today.  The nurses have been working without a contract since July 13.

WHAT: Nurses Strike Children’s Hospital Oakland over Healthcare Takeaways
WHERE: Outside CHO, 747 52nd St., Oakland
WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 12, 7 a.m.
The nurses will walk the picket line from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day, with assemblies each day at noon, and a major rally Wednesday, Oct. 13 at noon.

Nurses will face rollbacks in the value of their healthcare benefits of up to nearly $4,000 annually, putting healthcare out of reach for many RNs and their families.  This is far below community standards in the Bay Area, making it difficult to recruit and retain RNs needed for children served by the hospital.
Further, the nurses charge that Children’s management is trying to push the costs of its poor management practices onto the backs of nurses and other employees.  In an attempt to resolve the contract issues, nurses offered to forego a wage increase for this year, with no change in healthcare costs.  Even though that would save the hospital double what it claims it would see from the healthcare cutback proposal, hospital management has rejected that offer.  The hospital spent $8.9 million on compensation in 2008 for the 26 top administrators, including social club memberships and $560,000 in severance pay for two short-term executives, yet would stand to “save” just $1 million a year from its punitive healthcare takeaways, an indication of distorted priorities and poor management practices, says CNA.   In addition, the hospital wasted $4 million on an ill-conceived ballot measure in 2007-2008.

“Generations of nurses worked hard to win the standards we have today, especially here at Children’s Hospital,” said emergency room RN Anna Smith, one of the nurse negotiators. “My generation is not going to lead the way turning the clock back. Hands off our healthcare.”

“Cutting health benefits for nurses, other hospital workers, and our families is an unfair and unnecessary way for the hospital to make up for years of bad management,” said Martha Kuhl, CNA treasurer and a hematology-oncology RN at Children’s.