California, Nevada nurses plan massive strike

At war with their employers over what they say are inadequate protections against H1N1 flu, more than 16,000 RNs have set plans to strike on October 30. The contract dispute would affect 37 California hospitals and two Nevada facilities, all operated by Catholic Healthcare West. The nurses are represented by the California Nurses Association.

The H1N1 virus is far from the only issue at stake in the strike, which also involves arguments over pay and health benefits. But H1N1 protection seems to be a flash point, particularly since a 51-year-old nurse named Karen Ann Hays died of H1N1, pneumonia and severe respiratory infection a few months ago.

In Nevada, the state's officials have published guidelines for responding to H1N1 flu that include supplying nurses with N95 protective masks and isolating infected patients. Nurses there plan to picket to draw attention to this issue.

Catholic Healthcare West has said that meeting the union's demands would overtax the system, and that their benefit and salary expectations were "unrealistic."

To learn more about the planned strike:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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