Long Beach Memorial Nurses Hold One-Day Strike; Hospital Imposes Four-Day Lockout
As expected, registered nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center yesterday held a one-day strike, prompting hospital officials to impose a four-day lockout on the nurses, the Los Angeles Times reports (Marosi/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 10/24). The nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association, have sought an improved pension plan, increased staffing levels and raises for more experienced nurses, according to Diane Hirsch-Garcia, contract negotiator for CNA. The union has asked Long Beach Memorial to enroll the 1,300 registered nurses in a pension plan that would "require it to pay fixed amounts, rather than the varying amounts now paid out" based on employee efficiency. Hospital officials agreed to study a defined benefit pension plan but have refused to meet the other requests (California Healthline, 10/23). Long Beach Memorial has hired temporary nurses to provide patient care until Monday; hospital officials yesterday said that the facility was "operating smoothly," the Times reports. Dr. Gainer Pillsbury, medical director at Long Beach Memorial, said, "All of our units are functioning quite well." However, CNA officials raised concerns. CNA spokesperson Charles Idelson said, "For the hospital to expose the community to questionable care by replacement staff is not a positive scenario." Union and hospital officials said that they have made "no progress" in contract negotiations (Los Angeles Times, 10/24).
In related news, about 450 registered nurses represented by CNA at Doctors Medical Center, which has facilities in San Pablo and Pinole, yesterday said that they would begin a strike on Nov. 4 over disagreements about pension and retiree benefits, the Contra Costa Times reports. The union and the hospital began contract negotiations on Aug. 31, when the nurses' contract expired, but the discussions ended without an agreement on Tuesday. The nurses have asked for a pension plan in which the hospital contributes "sums equaling 5% of nurses' incomes into a pension fund" and for subsidized health benefits for retired nurses. However, Doctors officials said that the retirement benefits offered by the medical center are "equal or better" than those proposed by nurses. Corrine Comer, a CNA negotiator, said that the union and the hospital would not likely reach agreement "any time soon," the Times reports. She added, "Nurses are truly bewildered by the hospital's position. It simply does not make sense in this market." Michael Burelson, a hospital spokesperson, said, "We feel we're negotiating in good faith. We're optimistic that we can come to some kind of agreement" (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 10/24).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.