Registered Nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center Set for One-Day Strike Wednesday
Registered nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center last week "set the stage" for a one-day strike on Wednesday as contract negotiations with the hospital have stalled, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. 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. CNA officials said that the union would cancel the strike "if the hospital would commit to the plan in concept and hammer out the details over the next few weeks," but Long Beach Memorial officials refused. Dr. Gainer Pillsbury, medical director at the hospital, said, "(The hospital) would be glad to evaluate the feasibility of a defined benefit plan, but we can't commit to something until we know whether it's financially possible." Long Beach Memorial officials said that the hospital would lock out the nurses for four days after the one-day strike and hire replacement nurses to provide patient care. Hirsch-Garcia said the amount of money that hospital officials would spend to hire replacement nurses represents "millions of dollars they could be putting into a pension plan to retain experienced, loyal, quality nurses at Long Beach Memorial." Hospital and union officials said that they hope to reach a compromise before the strike date, the Press-Telegram reports (Manzer, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/18).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.