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East Bay | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Labor & Workers

In Berkeley, Striking Nurses Rally at Hospital
by /"Medicare for All Bus" Drops by to Cheer
Thursday Jul 5th, 2012 3:17 PM
The "Medicare for All" bus, sponsored by the California Nurses Association, was in Oakland on Tuesday with free health care screenings at the Alameda County Administration Building. But first, the big red bus stopped by the scene of several hundred nurses demonstrating in front of Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley.

Several hundred nurses demonstrated in front of the Alta Bates Medical Center which is operated by Sutter Health on Tuesday. The Berkeley hospital was one of seven Sutter hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area where nurses held a one-day strike.

Meanwhile Sutter management continues to press the union to accept their position on staffing levels and other issues.

According to a California Nurses Association spokesperson, what drove the nurses to this, the fifth in a series of strikes since last September, is Sutter management's demands for staff reductions that hinder nurses' ability to safely care for patients. Also at issue is Sutter's position on maternity leave for nurses, which management wants to reduce. Sutter also wants nurses to accept a contract that would require them to accept thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket costs for healthcare for themselves and their families. These, plus other management demands, caused the nurses to continue with strikes this week.

Sutter hired scab employees to keep the hospitals open. In Berkeley, Sutter shuttled them in to the medical facility in vans. Dozens of nurses marched to the entrance where the replacement nurses were entering; the protesting nurses faced off with a line of security.

To punish them, Sutter locked striking nurses out for four days.