Most Nurses on Strike at Doctors Medical Center Refuse To Return to Work Despite Threat of Job Loss
Most of the 450 nurses on strike at Doctors Medical Center, which has facilities in San Pablo and Pinole, did not return to work yesterday after hospital administrators informed the nurses that they could lose their jobs as a result, the Contra Costa Times reports (Guynn, Contra Costa Times, 12/5). The nurses began the strike on Nov. 4 after negotiations on a new contract failed. The California Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, and Tenet Healthcare, which owns the Doctors facilities, began contract negotiations on Aug. 31 when the nurses' contract expired, but the discussions ended without an agreement on Oct. 22. The nurses have asked for a pension plan under which the hospital would contribute 5% of nurses' incomes and for subsidized health benefits for retired nurses (California Healthline, 12/3). Julie Kline, nursing supervisor at Doctors, said that hospital administrators have made no move to replace the nurses permanently; Doctors has employed 140 temporary nurses each day of the strike. She added, "We may or may not (hire permanent replacements). I can tell you nothing is happening today, nothing will happen on Friday, in two weeks I don't know. ... A lot will depend on how things are going. If this looks like it's not going anywhere, we may decide it's in the best interest of the hospital to try to normalize as much as we can and move forward."
A CNA spokesperson said that Tenet has "backed off from threats of permanently replacing nurses under public pressure," the Times reports. She pointed out that a letter sent from Doctors CEO Gary Sloan to inform the nurses on strike that "the hospital reserves the right to hire permanent replacements for your position in December" coincided with calls last week from hospital supervisors to ask whether the nurses planned to return to work by Wednesday. "The hospitals' objective was to create fear and panic in nurses and have them cross the picket line. The hospital did not succeed," Corinne Comer, acute care director for CNA, said. Kline said that Doctors asked the nurses whether they planned to return to work so hospital administrators could plan to hire replacement nurses through a temporary agency that requires notice 30 days in advance (Contra Costa Times, 12/5).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.