CNA Urges UC Nurses To Vote for One-Day Strike
The California Nurses Association on Wednesday recommended that University of California nurses reject a contract proposal by the UC system and approve a possible one-day strike in response to failed contract negotiations, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Skidmore, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/24).
CNA and the UC system have been negotiating the contract since February. The contract, which expired April 30, was extended three times while negotiations continued, most recently to July 8 (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 6/24).
A university spokesperson said the union and university have not been able to agree on wage increases and provisions on staffing and pensions, the Union-Tribune reports.
Union officials said a contract proposal offered by UC on Wednesday was "substandard and influenced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) agenda on staffing and pensions," according to the Union-Tribune. CNA would like nurse staffing requirements included in the contract, even though UC said it has met the mandated levels.
CNA also has asked for a contract provision that would prevent UC from changing future retirement benefits without consent from the union. Under a proposal from UC, the university would be allowed to change retirement and health benefits after the two-year contract expires (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/24).
In addition, union leaders said that the wage increases included in the contract proposal were not adequate relative to wages paid by other hospitals and that the proposed "massive salary restructuring" would give the largest raises to new, inexperienced nurses (Sacramento Bee, 6/24).
If a contract is not approved, union officials have recommended that about 9,000 registered nurses at UC medical centers vote to authorize a one-day strike at facilities in Westwood, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange, Davis, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Berkeley.
Charles Idelson, a spokesperson for CNA, said a strike "wouldn't shut (the facilities) down. But it would be expensive for the university if they have to shuffle the remaining staff around. ... And it would send a pretty strong message to the University of California that they need to respect their RNs" (Malnic, Los Angeles Times, 6/24). He added, "We've reached a point at which it's time to let the nurses register their opinion on what offer the university has made."
UC spokesperson Noel Van Nyhuis said that politics are not affecting negotiations. "We do not take sides. We're dedicated to our patients and staff, and that is who we are negotiating for," Van Nyhuis said.
If it occurs, the strike would be the first of its kind for nurses in the UC system (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/24).