CNA Prepares for Kaiser Contract, Challenges Sutter Union Vote
The California Nurses Association is gearing up for contract negotiations with Kaiser Permanente and challenging a vote against unionizing at Sutter Health's Memorial Medical Center in Modesto.
CNA Prepares for Kaiser Negotiations
Next week, CNA will begin negotiations on new four-year contracts for Kaiser Permanente nurses in Northern California, KQED's "State of Health" reports. The organization is preparing to fight back on expected cuts to wages, pensions or other benefits.
Meanwhile, nurses have outlined several alleged issues at Kaiser facilities, such as:
- Closure of cardiology and pediatric units reducing access to care for some patients;
- Patients being discharged from emergency departments and intensive care units when they should have been admitted; and
- Understaffing at nursing call centers.
While the group has not listed any specific requests, nurses have begun touting the importance of patient safety ahead of the contract negotiations. CNA also has told its members to be prepared for a strike this fall if negotiations do not go well.
Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the UC-San Francisco School of Nursing, said, "One could reasonably expect into the future that there will be growth ... [a]nd if there is growth, then the nurses are doing exactly what the classic role of a union is, which is to say, 'Well, if there's going to be increased net revenue, we should get a cut of that.'"
Kaiser said the allegations about reduced access to care and understaffing are misleading or unfounded.
Barbara Crawford, vice president for quality at Kaiser, said, "We actually need less nurses in the hospital" because of improved technology and efforts to reduce hospital-associated infections. She said there now is a greater need for nurses in outpatient and home health settings.
Crawford also noted that the Affordable Care Act has increased pressure on the health system to cut costs and has made the insurance market more competitive (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 7/14).
CNA Objects to Unionization Vote at Modesto Hospital
In related news, CNA on Tuesday filed formal objections with the National Labor Relations Board about a vote to unionize at Sutter Health's Memorial Medical Center in Modesto.
Preliminary results from the vote found that 57% of nurses at the health center voted against joining the union. However, CNA said that the vote was "fatally compromised" by managers pressuring nurses to vote against the unionization.
Jeffrey Henze, deputy regional attorney at NLRB, said CNA has one week back up their objections with evidence (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/11).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.