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Nurses to Sutter: "We Won't Back Down"

Nurses at Burlingame's Mills-Peninsula Medical Center joined those at eight other hospitals throughout the state in protest of Sutter Health.

Nurses at the in Burlingame marched outside the hospital Tuesday in protest of Sutter Health-proposed contract concession that nurses said would lead to reduced care for patients and heightened risks for nurses.

They joined nearly 4,500 nurses at eight Sutter hospitals striking throughout the state.

Nurses danced the Electric Slide and blasted Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” as they picketed along Trousdale Drive with signs demanding “No Cuts in Patient Services” and “RNs on Strike for Patient Care.”

“When the nurses are on the outside, there is something wrong on the inside,” said DeAnn McEwan a member of the California Nurses Association (CNA) Council of Presidents.

According to CNA, the concessions would reduce sick leave, force nurses to pay more for health coverage and impose cuts on part time nurses.

This is the third 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 protect our patients and we have to protect our profession,” said Mills-Peninsula RN Sharon Tobin. “In unity there is strength; in solidarity there is victory.”

However, Sutter officials countered that nurses earn an average of $136,000 per year, and that their requests for higher wages and free health care would significantly increase costs.

“Despite the generous pay and benefits we provide our nurses, the California Nurses Union demands new benefits that will increase the cost of health care for our patients,” read a post published by Sutter on its “CNA Negotiations” blog.

Nurses in Burlingame are also protesting moves to close specialized pediatric care, acute rehabilitation, dialysis and skilled nursing care services at Burlingame and San Mateo hospitals.

The nurses had agreed to call off the strike Monday is Sutter withdrew its concession demands, but the strike moved forward as planned.

Mills-Peninsula remained open during the strike, using the service of replacement staff with a five-day minimum contract. The staff will remain at the hospital through May 6.

--Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Foghorn Leghorn May 02, 2012 at 02:36 PM
“We have to protect our patients and we have to protect our profession,” said Mills-Peninsula RN Sharon Tobin. “In unity there is strength; in solidarity there is victory.” Does this quote seem disingenuous to anyone but me? I think Sharon and her bunch is more about the Union rather than protecting patients and the profession .
Patrick O' May 02, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I don't see anything wrong with that statement. In fact I support it! The Union is just the leadership and guidance for those to get/keep what they have intact. Do ya really think a regular nurse makes $136K--PLEASE~! That may be an average (including over-inflated benefit money for 'spin') for the 4-5 'specialty' nurses... (~1% of nursing staff...) Without their unions, healthcare workers would be down near minimum wage with worse benefits than those that THEY care for. As would teachers and the building trades, etc... Without the union, the employer would simply say - you all need to take a pay cut and pay for more of your own benefits (what they are NOT telling them is: so that the company can be MORE profitable-while still being a 'not for profit' organization)... What is the employee to do? What can they do- quit or fight? Fighting a battle like that alone is futile at best. Form a group, unite...Stand together and say "you are not going to push us around!" Hmmm... now what would they call that group... I worked in a local hospital recently renovating a couple departments and there's more money wasted by management than one can fathom. I was almost sickened by it.
Sharon Tobin May 03, 2012 at 04:28 AM
The fight the RNs are waging is definitely for our patients and our profession. Every day the management of Sutter/MPHS looks for ways to cut corners and make sure every ounce of profit is squeezed from every possible sector. The real objective of Sutter is to break the union because we are the only ones left who shine a light on their inflated prices, their attempts at poor staffing and their gutting of patient services. In the last three years, Sutter/MPHS has eliminated our award winning Acute Rehabilitation Services, sold off our stellar Dialysis Unit to a national for-profit chain, is selling the Skilled Nursing Facility and Extended Care Facility as of July 1, and has completely eliminated the inpatient Pediatric Unit from the shiny new hospital/hotel, and now the Emergency Department at Mills in San Mateo will close as of December this year. The management of Sutter/Mills Peninsula has already gutted the benefits of its non-union workers, all the while supporting a bloated management structure, adding a new "Vice President of Patient Experience" and awarding CEO Bob Merwin with a salary of $1.3 MILLION a year. Their business plan is clear: get rid of the pesky nurses union who are the only ones to call them on their tactics. That way Mills-Peninsula can join the rest of Sutter in their race to the bottom in patient care, community services, and employee benefits.
Sharon Tobin May 03, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Thanks to the blogger for actually showing up to the strike line and doing a real job as a journalist.
Patrick O' May 03, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Thank you Ms. Tobin, for fighting tooth and nail! I had a family member go by ambulance to MP that day and was amazed at the support you gathered as I followed the ambulance in. I am a 20+ yr member of a trades union and actually worked in a functioning hospital for a year in my own trade. I've seen the cuts you speak of and the stress, heartache and dangerous situations that they create. "VP-Customer Experience"... sounds like they've been looking at their competitor's playbook....

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