No Response from Sutter to Latest RN Offer to Avert Thursday Walkout

4,000 Bay Area Sutter RNs Set for One-Day Strike Thursday – Prompted by Massive Proposed Cuts in Patient Care, RN Standards

CALIFORNIA–(ENEWSPF)–December 21, 2011. Some 4,000 registered nurses are moving ahead with plans for a one-day strike at eight Bay Area hospitals Thursday after officials of the wealthy Sutter corporation failed to respond to a RN proposal to call-off the walkout if Sutter officials agree to withdraw major concessions in patient care protections and RN standards.

 “After 29 bargaining sessions management still insists on massive takeaways that will affect every nurse in the hospital to the detriment of patient care,” said Millie Borland, a registered nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

The one day walkout will affect Alta Bates campuses in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula hospital campuses in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center facilities in Castro Valley and San Leandro, Sutter Delta in Antioch, and Sutter Solano in Vallejo. An additional 2,000 RNs are also scheduled to strike Thursday in Long Beach, over similar issues.

If the strike goes forward, the RNs will have a patient protection task force available at each facility to assist in the event of a genuine patient care emergency inside the hospitals. Each hospital received 10 days advance notice to postpone elective surgeries, transfer out any patients as needed, and make other preparations.

Sutter’s demands for some 150 unwarranted contract takeaways are at the heart of the dispute. Just last week, nurses at a smaller, former Sutter hospital, Marin General, did reach a contract agreement with hospital officials after that hospital agreed to withdraw similar proposed concessions.

Sutter, which has amassed over $3.7 billion in profits since 2005, pays over $1 million to each of 20 top corporate executives, and increased CEO Pat Fry’s salary by 20% to $4.7 million last year, is demanding contract takeaways that, among others, would undermine RNs’ ability to effectively advocate for patients and effectively force nurses to work when sick by eliminating paid sick leave, dangerously exposing extremely ill patients to infection.

Ironically, while demanding the elimination of paid sick leave for its nurses, one of Alta Bates’ own doctor executives was quoted in the Oakland Tribune Sunday encouraging workers to stay home when sick, saying: “Nobody wants a sick person coming into the office.”  

Sutter RNs also oppose management’s bid to reduce nurses’ healthcare coverage, with huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage, elimination of health benefits for part-time RNs, and other cuts that would result in thousands of dollars in economic loss for RNs.

Additionally, RNs will also continue their protest against Sutter’s slash and burn reductions of patient services throughout Northern California. Sutter has targeted hospitals serving more low income patients in San Francisco and San Leandro for full or partial closures, and carried out huge reductions in patient services it deems less profitable, regardless of the impact on patients, especially mental health services, women’s health care, pediatric care, rehab services, and dialysis care.

Sutter is also notorious for skimping on charity care, despite its great wealth. A recent report by the University of California Hastings College of Law on Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center found that Sutter spends far less on charity care than other private hospitals in San Francisco, despite being the city’s most profitable private hospital.

Picket lines go up Thursday at 7 a.m.

  • Alta Bates Main Campus, 2450 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley  
  • Alta Bates Herrick Campus, 2001 Dwight Way, Berkeley (psychiatric care facility)
  • Alta Bates Summit Campus, 350 Hawthorne Avenue, Oakland
  • Eden Medical Center, 20103 Lake Chabot Rd, Castro Valley
  • San Leandro Hospital, 13855 E. 14th St., San Leandro
  • Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, 1501 Trousdale Drive, Burlingame
  • Mills Health Center, 100 S. San Mateo Drive, San Mateo
  • Sutter Solano Medical Center, 300 Hospital Drive, Vallejo  
  • Sutter Delta Medical Center, 3901 Lone Tree Way, Antioch

Rallies are planned at the following locations:

  • Alta Bates, Ashby hospital, Berkeley – 12 noon
  • Sutter Solano, Vallejo – 12 noon
  • Sutter Delta, Antioch – 12 noon
  • Peninsula – 2 p.m.
  • Alta Bates, Summit hospital – 4 p.m.
  • Sutter corporate headquarters, 2200 River Plaza Dr., Sacramento – 12 noon