Nurses at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame joined thousands of nurses at 10 Sutter Health hospitals Wednesday for a one-day strike, stemming from breakdowns in contract negotiations with Sutter.
According to the California Nurses Association, the concessions asked from Sutter would reduce nurses' sick leave, force nurses to pay more for health coverage and increase overtime.
This is the fourth time in seven months nurses have protested during bargaining with Sutter. They said nursing standards are at risk, which would ultimately hurt patients.
"We have to speak up and let them know what they’re doing is not right," said Mills-Peninsula nurse Christine Picard. “We’re asking them not to gut our contract and not take away our union.”
However, Sutter spokeswoman Karen Garner said nurses are highly paid, earning an average of $136,000 per year, but union leaders "want double-digit wage increases and free health care for life, which will increase costs at our hospitals by tens of millions of dollars each year."
Garner said, "We will continue to offer competitive wages and benefits but will reject unreasonable demands that unnecessarily increase costs."
Representatives from Senator Leland Yee and Assemblyman Jerry Hill’s offices were at the Mills-Peninsula picket lines, along with nurses from Sutter Roseville, members of Occupy Redwood City and at least one Kasier nurse standing in solidarity.
Rallies were scheduled throughout the day at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, Alta Bates Summit in Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Novato Community Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.
Two rallies at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame occurred at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Other affected hospitals include San Leandro Hospital and Sutter Lakeside.
Although the nurses only plan to strike for 24 hours, Sutter has hired replacements for multiple days of work because most replacement nurses have contracts that require them to work for multiple days.
Despite picket lines, Mills-Peninsula Chief Operating Officer Dolores Gomez said 41 percent of nurses crossed over Wednesday morning for the day shift.
All services remained open at Mills-Peninsula.
--Bay City News contributed to this report.