California Nurses Association Members Protest During Schwarzenegger Speech at Women’s Conference
Members of the California Nurses Association on Tuesday "repeatedly interrupted" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) speech at a Long Beach women's conference to protest a decision by his administration last month to delay the implementation of revised nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The conference, hosted by first lady Maria Shriver, had a theme of "Architects of Change" and offered seminars on women and technology, sex, body image, money, obstacles and activism.
The union purchased 15 tickets for $125 each to attend the event, and about 300 nurses marched outside the conference. During Schwarzenegger's speech, about eight nurses unrolled a banner about 100 feet away from the governor that read, "Hands off our ratios" (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 12/8). The nurses also chanted, "Safe staffing saves lives" (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 12/8).
CNA leaders said that they plan to sue this week to overturn Schwarzenegger's executive order to delay the nurse staffing changes (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/8).
According to the Los Angeles Times, "The convention hall was so large that most of the audience probably didn't hear the protest, but the VIPs up front did" (Los Angeles Times, 12/8).
Schwarzenegger, in response, stopped his speech, saying, "[P]ay no attention to those voices over there. They are the special interests. Special interests in Sacramento don't like me because I am always kicking their butts. That is why they don't like me. And I love them anyway" (Sacramento Bee, 12/8).
Schwarzenegger "sidestepped" reporters' questions after the conference and would not comment on the issue, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/8).
Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA, which represents about 40% of nurses in the state, said, "The fact that [Schwarzenegger] would call registered nurses a special interest is completely insulting" (Sacramento Bee, 12/8). In a statement after the conference, she added, "For the governor to denigrate nurses -- a historically female profession -- while speaking to an audience of women is an affront to women everywhere" (Wides, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/8).
California Healthcare Association spokesperson Jan Emerson called the protest "disgraceful and pathetic." She added that it "really dishonors the nursing profession." She said that most nurses in California who are not CNA members do not support the union's "antics, which smack of Teamster labor union tactics" (Los Angeles Times, 12/8). She accused CNA officials of "fear-mongering" (Sacramento Bee, 12/8). Emerson added, "We believe there has to be some balance" between patient care and staffing ratios (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/8).
Department of Health Services Deputy Director Brenda Klutz said the administration called for the delay in implementing the ratios because it wants to investigate the effect the current ratios have on the state's nursing shortage before continuing. She said, "We're trying to be responsible and go slow" (Marimow, Contra Costa Times, 12/8).
KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?" on Tuesday reported on the nurses' protest at the conference. The segment includes comments from Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, and Deann McEwan, registered nurse at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?," KCRW, 12/7). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.