MERCY HEALTHCARE: Nurses Expected To Announce One-Day Strike
"Mercy Healthcare nurses are expected to announce Friday that they will go on strike against their employer at the end of the month," the Sacramento Bee reports. According to Beth Kean, a union-organizing director for the California Nurses' Association, "[t]hings fell apart" between nurses and the hospital Tuesday night "over the issue of recruiting and retaining experienced nurses, which comes down to offering a competitive salary for the Sacramento-Stockton market." Mercy spokesperson Cindy Holst said the nurses' latest proposed contract "barely differed" from a previous offer that would have cost the hospital at least $35 million over the contract's three-year life. Mercy rejected that contract weeks ago.
A Long Road
Since the CNA first began representing local Mercy nurses in December 1996, the union and Mercy "have held more than 50 bargaining sessions with no resolution or salary increases." The latest stalemate rests on the gap between Mercy's proposed salary increases (6% in the first year, 2% in each of the next two years and 2% merit increases per year) and nurses' demands for an 8% raise in the first year, 4% in the next two years and "equity adjustment pay" that would tie the lowest salaries to union-established benchmarks according to nurse seniority. The CNA contends that Mercy's proposal "would leave Mercy nurses the lowest paid in the region." According to the Sacramento Bee, once the CNA provides Mercy with 10 days' legally required notice Friday, nurses in Sacramento, Carmichael and Folsom will strike five Mercy facilities across the region. March 24 is the earliest date the 1,700 nurses could walk out (Ferraro, 2/12).