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University of California RNs to Strike May 29

by Ken Nash Thursday, May. 23, 2002 at 3:24 AM

At the heart of the dispute are UC's improper violations of the negotiations process, a discriminatory compensation system, safe staffing, and mandatory overtime.


University of California RNs to Strike May 29

Registered Nurses at University of California Medical Centers and Student Health Centers will hold a one-day strike Wednesday, May 29, the first in the history of the UC hospitals, the California Nurses Association announced late Wednesday.

The decision followed what the CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro characterized as "continued bad faith bargaining" and three unsuccessful days of negotiations that culminated with a "wholly inadequate proposal by the
University that does nothing to resolve the growing concern of UC RNs over the future of the UC health
system for nurses and patients."

Just a week ago, UC RNs voted by 95% to authorize a strike - "a message that apparently was lost on the UC administration which seems to think it can plod along
with inferior and insulting contract proposals that compromise any effort to retain the
highly respected RN workforce who are central to the quality of care patients expect at UC facilities,"
DeMoro said.

A formal strike notice was delivered to UC negotiators Wednesday night. The strike would affect UCLA, UC San Francisco, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and
UCLA-Santa Monica medical centers, and student health centers at those campuses as well as at Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Riverside. CNA represents some
8,000 UC RNs.

At the heart of the dispute are UC's improper violations of the negotiations process, a discriminatory compensation system, safe staffing, and mandatory overtime.

"The nurses at UCSD are fed up with the University's failure to address our concerns," said UC San Diego nurse negotiator Geri Jenkins, RN. "The University's
unwillingness to seriously bargain on these issues is an insult to the hardworking nurses in this system."

In its latest proposal, UC administrators offered what CNA described as "baby steps" on modifying its "merit" compensation system or what CNA calls a "maybe" pay
system that bases most salary increases on the subjective evaluation of managers rather than rewarding them for years of service to their patients. The new UC proposal leaves most RNs subject to maybe pay.

The latest UC wage offer also fails to address intra-campus inequities with some experienced RNs with up to 10 years of service to the University paid less than recently
hired nurses.

"I'm deeply disappointed that the UC does not see fit to negotiate in good faith with the nurses," said UCLA nurse negotiator Maxine Terk, RN. "The UCLA nurses still
need an end to 'merit' based pay and a pay structure that recognizes their years of experience that would enable the University to retain and recruit the best."

On the CNA proposal calling for immediate implementation of RN-to-patient ratios, the University again refused to adopt formal ratios, instead saying it will wait for final
implementation of the state's new law on staffing ratios rather than acting now to assure safe patient care staffing. "Our patients deserve this now," said Terk.

The UC proposal also implies it may fill some of the positions with lesser licensed staff,
mimicking the position taken by Kaiser Permanente on nursing ratios.

UC's latest proposal on mandatory overtime was similarly disappointing, noted CNA. While offering to restrict forced overtime, by which nurses are expected to continue to
work even while fatigued and prone to making mistakes that jeopardize patients, the UC wants to be able to continue to require nurses to work mandatory overtime in unspecified

The RNs are also insisting on full contract protections for per diem RNs who work on an as-needed basis. "Our nurses are furious that the University doesn't get it - what it needs to retain its nurses, recruit additional RNs and ensure the highest quality of care for UC patients,"
said UCSF nurse negotiator Stephanie Isaacson, RN. "The University is spending a fortune on temporary staff because of these policies that it should be investing on the
nurses who made the University what it is today."

Within the next few days, CNA will be in contact with county health directors to discuss cooperative arrangements for assuring UC patients are provided care as needed during a strike. UC nurses on the picket lines will also be available to assist with patients in the hospitals in the event of a patient emergency. By providing a notice well in
advance of the strike date, CNA is also encouraging the University to cancel elective surgeries and transfer patients to other facilities.

In prelude to the strike, CNA is also asking UC RNs to begin signing up for nursing registries where they would be available to work at other hospitals during a
UC strike.
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