Negotiations Between Nurses, St. John’s Hospitals Fail to Settle Differences
A Wednesday meeting between negotiators for nurses and owners of St. John's hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo failed to resolve "key" differences regarding pay and work conditions between the two groups, with each side "blam[ing]" the other for the session's failure, the Los Angeles Times reports. Both sides described the talks as "frustratingly short," and each accused the other of "bargaining in bad faith." Janet Brown, a member of the nurses' negotiating team, said, "Management came in at 4:04 (p.m.) and left at 4:26, and we'd been here waiting for them since 8 a.m. We wanted to discuss staffing. Our primary concern is having good nurse-patient ratios. And they refused." Hospital spokesperson Armando Azarloza disagreed with the claim that the hospital had not devoted adequate time to the negotiations. "We were available the entire day," he said. Azarloza said that the nurses "refused" to discuss the $1.4 million pay offer the hospital had put on Wednesday's agenda. He blamed the union for the brief session on Wednesday, calling the move "part of an overall plan by the Service Employees International Union to strike five hospitals owned by Catholic Healthcare West at the same time." The nurses union has approved a two-week strike at the St. John's hospitals if the stalemate between the two groups continues, but the union denied that the St. John's negotiations were related to negotiations at three CHW San Francisco hospitals, where strikes are planned for Dec. 14. Talks were set to resume yesterday morning and will continue until next Thursday if necessary to prevent the strike (Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 12/7).
To garner support for their planned strike, union nurses at St. John's hospitals have launched a "major" radio advertising campaign, the Ventura County Star reports. The ads feature the voices of several nurses saying that they do not wish to strike but will do so if needed to get increased staffing levels at the hospitals. The commercials also urge residents to honor picket lines outside the two hospitals. Susan Franks, an emergency room nurse whose voice appears in one of the ads, said, "We need to get our message out, and we're dealing with a corporation that has not hesitated to spend thousands of dollars for newspaper ads. We're striking over patient care, not money." Azarloza called the ads "troubling," adding that they "prove ... that the union wants a strike and is not bargaining in good faith." The commercials began airing Thursday morning on 12 of Ventura County's 14 commercial radio stations, three of them Spanish-language outlets, and will run through the strike if it occurs (McLain, Ventura County Star, 12/8).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.