County Nurses Set To Strike Over Stalled Contract Starting December 9

The California Nurses Association has given San Bernardino County notice that roughly 1,200 nurses employed by the county will initiate a work stoppage on December 9.
The strike is intended to last two days, concluding on December 10. The strike is intnded as a show of strength. The county’s contract with its nurses expired in June. Since last year the county and the nurses association have been engaged in an effort to negotiate terms of a new contract, but have failed to reach a resolution.
Nurses have staged three demonstrations since the expiration of the contract, but this is the first effort at an actual work stoppage.
In their protests and statements, the nurses and their union have insisted that the county has engaged in policies that have endangered patients and been financially damaging to the nurses and their families.
Nurses claim they are paid roughly $17 an hour less than nurses in many of the region’s competing hospitals. The county is now functioning with a budget surplus and should be able to provide pay increases and hire more qualified nurses. Because of the countyiInsteadny dget surpuls whichthey say should allow ARMC toprovde pay increast and attract more qalified nurses.
The county employs somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 nurses at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, the county’s main hospital campus, and more than 320 other nurses in public health capacities such as within the jails, juvenile halls and various clinics.
A sore point with the nurses is what they maintain is a high turnover rate among the ranks of the county’s nurses. This is exacerbated by the county’s employment of registry nurses.
Nurses have complained about understaffing, which has required that they work under conditions in which they were not permitted to take breaks or eat lnnch while they fill in for other nurses that have been dispatched to life threatening situations.
The county maintains that it has never exceeded the state’s minimum nurse-patient ratios.
The county has earmarked $15 million to employ registry nurses over the next three years.
The county disputes charges of a high turnover rate among its nurses, asserting that on average its nurses remain employed there for nine years.
That assertion is belied, nurses say, by the consideration that more than 70 registered nurses have departed from the county’s employ since 2013.
Nurses say the county is losing competent and experienced nurses at an astounding rate as it serves as a training ground for new nurses, who routinely leave upon gaining expertise, rather than remaining, because of the dearth of advancement. The county exacerbated this circumsance, nurses say, when it recenly devoted a $226,150 grant from the California Workforce Investment Board to assist residents who have recently graduated from college or training programs with degrees or certifications in healthcare secure positions traditionally offered to candidtes with more work experience. That grant is expected to boost employment opportunities from anywhere from 40 to 50 healthcare graduates from Chaffey College, College of the Desert and Copper Mountain College.
The county dismisses objections the nurses have made to its effort to facilitate the education of health care professions, maintaining the significant number of newly graduated and certifiied nurses has given it the opportunity to have its pick of new personnel.
Total costs of bringing a just licensed nurse up to speed is estimated at $50,000.
Nurses have countered that this empasis on bringing neophytes into the workforce is counterporductive because of the cost associated with training new employees insead of keeping experienced healthcare workers employed.
Additionally, the nurses assert, patientshave beenendangeredbecause of the county’s reliance on registry nurses instead of more experienced staff nurses.
The two-day strike is necessitated by the lack of progress achieved during the previous 14 months of stalled negotiations, the nurses insist. The work stoppage was supported by more than 99 percent of the union’s emembers.
The county will be able to withstand any work stoppage by nurses without any interruption in service.

Leave a Reply