Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Two days of strikes by nurses at three L.A-area hospitals and five in Northern California to press for higher staffing levels and what two unions call safer conditions for patients are scheduled to conclude Friday.

In Los Angeles County, nurses picketed Thursday and today at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard and marched today at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance and Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. About 500 people picketed outside the Kaiser facility Thursday, according to a representative for the nurses.

“Management demands for cuts in health coverage for RNs and their families are also a major focus for nurses … especially RNs who work for the Sutter Health chain,” the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United said before the strike began, asserting that 5,000 nurses would take part in the job action.

The nurses “are calling on hospitals to stop endangering patients by implementing safe staffing levels and taking steps to retain experienced RNs. They are also demanding policies that give RNs a stronger voice in patient care delivery,” according to the union statement.

Kaiser officials said “a significant number” of nurses at the hospital ignored the call to strike and went to work on Thursday. They also said that while some LAMC nurses were walking the picket line, “there are estimates that up (to) two-thirds of those demonstrating are not associated with Los Angeles Medical Center.”

Kaiser officials said the walkout was an organizing tactic by the California Nurses Association, which does not represent nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center but is one of three unions vying to.

“It is unfortunate that one of the organizing tactics chosen by this union is to call on nurses to walk away from their patients,” according to Kaiser. “We believe it is entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as part of a union-organizing effort.”

Pickets were also held Thursday at five Sutter Corp. hospitals in Northern California — in Auburn, Burlingame, Roseville, Santa Rosa and Tracy.

Providence officials said they have contingency plans in place at its two hospitals targeted by the strike to ensure there would not be any disruptions in patient care.

“While the union claims the strike was called to improve patient safety, the truth is both of these hospitals have received national awards recently for quality and safety,” according to a statement from Providence, which said there are hospitals in the Southland that are not as highly rated as Providence and Kaiser hospitals.

—City News Service

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