KAISER PERMANENTE: Nurses Agree To Talk As Strike Winds Down
"Thousands of registered nurses [were] in the second day of a two-day walkout against 54 Kaiser medical facilities from Fresno to Sacramento" yesterday, KGO News-San Francisco reported (1/29). The two-day strike ended at 7 a.m. today, Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times reports (Spears, 1/29). The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Nurses Association and Kaiser will resume "formal bargaining" next Wednesday (DeBare, 1/30). The federal mediator assigned to the dispute, Gary Hattal, said, "Both sides are anxious to resume bargaining." CNA spokesperson Chuck Idelson said, "We hope we will have a contract next week so there won't be any more strikes" (Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times, 1/29). State Assemblyman Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), who attempted late Tuesday night to avert the strike by bringing the two sides together, said, "One thing that's a step forward is that the president of Kaiser's California division and the head of its doctors group have gotten involved." The Chronicle notes "that a settlement won't be easy" as Kaiser and its nurses "remain far apart on two very different sets of issues -- wages and benefits, and how much say nurses should have in setting staffing levels and quality-of-care standards" (1/30).
"Both sides in the Kaiser Permanente labor dispute stepped up their campaign for public sympathy Thursday, as the nurses' two-day strike appeared to be winding down with none of the serious disruption that some had feared," San Jose Mercury News reports. "[W]hether the strike had moved the nurses' union and Kaiser management any closer to a resolution is unclear," according to the Mercury News. "The tempers of the two groups are so high. And I think the public is probably rightfully frustrated with both the nurses' union and Kaiser management," said Policy Institute of California economist Joanne Spetz. "I'm sure everybody wishes that both parties would get to the bargaining table and get to the issues," she continued (Bailey/Gathright, 1/30). The Chronicle reports that "CNA's members have authorized their leadership to call similar brief strikes in February, March and April." However, CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said, "If negotiations are going well, I can't imagine we'd go out on strike" (1/30). Jim Ryder, the CNA's chief negotiator for the Kaiser division, was "skeptical that major progress was close at hand," the Sacramento Bee reports. He said, "Every time we've come back to the table -- and we've been there 20 times -- we've always hoped there would be some progress on Kaiser's part. But it's been slow, if not imperceptible." Kaiser spokesperson Kathleen McKenna said, "We don't want any more strikes. ... We're hopeful we can get back to serious negotiations and get this resolved quickly (Ferraro, 1/30).