OCTOBER 5, 2010
Average Nurse Makes $136,000 a Year, But Union Demands More Despite Economic Downturn
October 5 , 2010
Oakland, Calif. – Children’s Hospital leaders today said the Hospital will remain open and functioning despite a planned three-day strike beginning Tuesday, October 12 by 700 members of the Hospital’s nurses union which is demanding pay and benefit raises as part of a new three year contract.
The California Nurses Association (CNA) notified the Hospital on Friday, October 1, 2010 that it would strike on these three days.
“Providing exceptional patient care is our number one concern,” said Nancy Shibata, RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer. “We are prepared to care for our patients despite this misguided strike. We have hired qualified pediatric and specialty replacement nurses to work alongside our non-striking nurses, physicians and other employees.”
“This is about the CNA not being able to acknowledge and accept changes that are occurring throughout the country related to wages and healthcare,” said Shibata. “The fact that the union would attempt to disrupt health services for the children and families in our community is thoughtless and wrong.”
Shibata said the Hospital is proposing a wage freeze in 2010 with pay increases in the following years. The Hospital is offering 100 percent employer-paid HMO and PPO plans for nurses and their families with a third premium PPO option that requires a pre-tax employee contribution ranging from $111 - $311 a month, depending on individual or family coverage. The average nurse earns $136,000 a year.
A mix of employer-paid and contributory plans have been rolled out to other Hospital employees beginning in 2009 and the Hospital is now negotiating employer-paid and contributory plans with the CNA as its contract expires. Currently, over half of the employees have this type of healthcare program and it is now the Hospital’s first opportunity to negotiate the change with the CNA. Children’s pays more than $33 million each year for its employees’ healthcare benefits at the 190-bed hospital.
The Hospital and union leaders have been negotiating a new three-year contract since May 19. The last union contract, negotiated in better economic times in 2007, provided raises of 6% in 2007, 5% in 2008, and an additional 5% in 2009. These large increases are the basis for the Hospital’s proposal for a wage freeze this year.
“We value our nurses, but union leaders are making demands that are simply out of touch with the economic realities of today,” Shibata said.
Earlier this year, Children’s Hospital announced that it has lost more than $69 million over the past four years, of which $26 million was lost in 2009 alone. Since that time, the Hospital has been restructuring its services, developing new business opportunities, and actively negotiating higher private insurance and government reimbursements to cover patient care costs.
The not-for-profit regional pediatric medical center said its financial challenges stem from the poor economy, low government and private reimbursement rates, increasing healthcare costs and a lack of public hospitals with pediatric inpatient beds.
The Hospital is on a path to decrease the losses in 2010 to $15 million this fiscal year. The plan calls for the Hospital to break even in 2011 and return to financial stability in 2012.
About Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland is Northern California’s only independent not-for-profit regional medical center for children. Children’s Hospital Oakland is a national leader in many pediatric specialties and sub-specialties including hematology/oncology, neonatology, cardiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and neurosurgery. The hospital is one of only two solely designated California Level 1 pediatric trauma centers with the largest pediatric inpatient critical care unit in the region. Children’s Hospital has 190 licensed beds, 201 hospital-based physicians in 30 specialties, more than 2,700 employees, and an annual operating budget of more than $350 million. Children’s is also a premier teaching hospital with an outstanding pediatric residency program and subspecialty fellowship programs.
Children’s research program, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is internationally renowned for taking state-of-the-art basic and clinical research and translating it into interventions for treating and preventing human diseases. CHORI has 300 members of its investigative staff, a budget of about $50 million, and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 research centers in National Institutes of Health funding to children’s hospitals. For more information, go to www.childrenshospitaloakland.org and www.chori.org.