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Latest News - May 2011

May 5, 2011
Five-day nurse strike begins at Children's Hospital Oakland
Source: Contra Costa Times
By: Sandy Kleffman

Registered nurses at Children's Hospital Oakland walked off the job Thursday morning to begin a five-day strike over benefits, wages and other issues.

This marks the second strike in nearly a year of negotiations for a new contract by the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United, representing more than 750 employees at the hospital. The union struck for three days in October.

Hospital leaders planned to bring in at least 125 temporary nurses and said they will remain open throughout the walkout, which is set to end at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The hospital will postpone some elective surgeries and downsize some critical care units during the strike, leaders said last week.

The nurses have worked without a contract since July.

The major hurdle has been health benefits. In the past, the hospital paid the entire cost of premiums for its nurses but now is proposing changes that would cost some employees up to $4,000 a year.

The nurses say management's offer would place their compensation well below that of other private Bay Area hospitals and make it difficult to retain and attract workers.

"We don't want to have a substandard contract here at Children's," said registered nurse Wendy Bloom as she walked the picket line. "We think that the children of Oakland deserve to have quality staff at the hospital."

Managers say the proposed changes are driven by soaring premiums and the financial struggles of the 190-bed hospital, which has undergone cutbacks in recent years to offset losses.

Under the latest hospital proposal, nurses would have three health insurance options: a Kaiser Permanente plan that would not require an employee contribution, a high-deductible PPO plan, and a PPO plan that would require nurses to chip in nearly $4,000 a year and would have higher co-payments for prescription drugs and office visits.



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