Watsonville Hospital Seeks to Prolong Dispute with RNs By Imposing Lockout Following One-Day Strike

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2010
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Watsonville Community Hospital registered nurses today said the former community hospital, now part of a mega national for-profit chain, is threatening to prolong the dispute with its RNs by imposing a lockout following Tuesday’s one-day strike.

Watsonville RNs held the strike to call attention to the hospital’s refusal to address the nurses’ concerns about serious staffing shortages and the risk it poses to patient safety. The 300 Watsonville RNs are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

The RNs will end their strike and be prepared to return to the bedside Wednesday morning despite the hospital’s threats to unnecessarily keep them away from patients for two additional days with a lockout (as hospital officials have indicated to the press). The RNs will be prepared to re-enter the hospital and resume patient care, en masse, Wednesday morning at 6:45 AM.
“Registered nurses are experts in delivering patient care. The hospital should be asking us how to do that better,” said Watsonville RN Tim Thomas at a rally on the picket line Tuesday. 

The RNs charged that the hospital was putting its bottom line ahead of fixing the staffing shortages that have made it far more difficult for the nurses to provide safe care for patients.

“I want you to know you are not alone in this,” said CNA/NNU Co-president Malinda Markowitz, RN. “Their bottom line is profits. Our bottom line is patient care and making sure that whoever goes in those doors gets the best care.”

What:             RNs to Return to Work
When:             Wednesday, October 27, 6:45 a.m.
Where:           75 Nielsen St., Watsonville
                        (corner, Nielson St. and Airport Blvd.)

At today’s press conference, the Watsonville RNs were joined by Watsonville Mayor Luis Alejo, leaders of the Monterey County Central Labor Council and other local labor supporters. Statements of support were presented from Assembly members Anna Caballero of Salinas and William Monning of Santa Cruz.

Also speaking was Carmen Attanasio, RN, from the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, which is in a similar fight with Watsonville’s parent company, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems at Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital, which they cite as another example of efforts by CHS to reduce patient care services and lower standards for nurses across the country.    

“I’m sick of how CHS treats hospitals all around the country,” Attanasio said. “Your fight is our fight.”