NURSING STRIKE II: Bakersfield Memorial Nurses to Strike Nov. 23
Nurses at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital are planning to walk out, having "voted overwhelmingly Thursday to go on strike for the third time this year," the Bakersfield Californian reports. While the nurses, who have been negotiating a contract since February, had petitioned previously for better pay and benefits, lower nurse-to-patient ratios and a requirement for all nurses to pay union dues, the struggle currently resides around a management-rights clause. "The management-rights clause is the single biggest issue right now. [Hospital administrators] want to maintain the unilateral right to change things whenever they feel like it," explained California Nurses Association (CNA) chief negotiator Don Nielsen. The management-rights clause allows hospital officials limited flexibility in scheduling, working conditions and salary range. John Omel, regional director for human resources at Catholic Healthcare West Central California, states that Nielsen overstates the power of the clause, noting, "Why would we be negotiating if we could change anything at any time?" He continues, "We have the responsibility to provide staff on every shift to take care of patients. When there are changes in health care we have to respond to whatever those changes are." Omel noted that the real point of contention between the CNA and the hospital is over the "union-shop issue." The last CNA proposal included a measure which would make union fees compulsory for all nurses if membership reached over 80%. Omel explained that the hospital rejected that provision, noting, "We still want our nurses to have a choice." The strike is set for November 23, but Nielsen stated that the union remains willing to negotiate (Terwilleger, 11/11).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.