Kaiser sues nurse union over strike

Following what was reportedly the largest nurse strike in U.S. history, Kaiser Permanente on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the California Nurses Association (CNA), alleging the union had violated its collective bargaining agreement by calling the statewide strike, reports Sacramento Business Journal.

In September, 23,000 nurses in the state walked off the job in a one-day strike at more than 30 hospitals operated by Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Children's Hospital Oakland over struggling staffing levels, reduced worker benefits, and cuts to patient services, according to the protesters.

The CNA-Kaiser contract that went into effect Sept. 1 stipulates that strikes are not allowed. Kaiser said the agreement includes a "mutually agreed upon provision that prohibits work stoppages and strikes for the life of the three-year contract," reports San Francisco Business Times.

In addition to the sheer numbers of nurses and hospital workers involved, the California strikes caught national attention when a patient died at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., from a replacement nurse's medical error. The replacement nurse was one of 500 replacements that Sutter Health called in to staff its Oakland hospital and two Berkeley campuses in absence of the striking nurses. The California Nurses Association argued that the patient death could have been avoided had Sutter not locked out the nurses from reentering.

Kaiser, who reportedly did not lock out nurses following the strike, in October filed a grievance against the union to address the resolution process. CNA rejected the request earlier this month, arguing the no-strike provision does not apply to sympathy strikes and that only the union has the right to file a grievance under the contract, according to Sacramento Business Journal.

For more information:
- read the San Francisco Business Times article
- read the Sacramento Business Journal article

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