Temporary Restraining Order Bars UC Nurses’ Strike
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order to stop a planned California Nurses Association strike at five University of California teaching hospitals, the Sacramento Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 7/21)
The Public Employment Relations Board on Tuesday filed a complaint in Sacramento Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent CNA members from carrying out the one-day strike.
The issue was brought to PERB by UC officials. Robert Thompson, general counsel for PERB, said the strike could be considered illegal because it is being held before completion of negotiations. CNA officials have said the strike is legal (California Healthline, 7/20),
McMaster did not rule on the legality of the strike. Instead, the restraining order stopped the strike until Aug. 11, when a hearing will review contract talks and determine whether the strike was legal. In the ruling, McMaster said, "I have to take into account the patients who are not represented here in court. I respect most definitely the right to strike, but if I subsequently determine the strike was not legal, I can't unring the bell and undo any harm done to patients" (Sacramento Bee, 7/21).
McMaster prohibited UC from taking any retaliatory action for the proposed strike (Skidmore/Yang, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/21).
According to CNA leaders, nurses plan to picket but not strike on Thursday.
UC spokesperson Noel Van Nyhuis said, "We feel (the ruling) sends a strong message to the CNA as well as other unions that they need to complete the bargaining process. We hope that the CNA complies with the court order and our nurses report to work as scheduled" (Sacramento Bee, 7/21).
UC President Robert Dynes said he was "absolutely pleased" with the injunction. "I believe we should be working this out at the bargaining table," he said (Ornstein/Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 7/21).
CNA negotiator Joe Lindsay said he was "deeply disappointed by the ruling." He added, "We look forward to being able to fully deal with our outstanding issues with UC at the bargaining table." Lindsay said he would notify nurses to report for work (Sacramento Bee, 7/21).
CNA Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said, "Everything leads back to Schwarzenegger. There's an agenda in the state of California basically to reduce staffing ratios, to go after pensions, and it's all playing out here at the University of California. ... The nurses are furious" (Los Angeles Times, 7/21).
If it proceeded, the strike would have affected UC medical centers in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica and student health centers in Berkeley, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara (Contra Costa Times, 7/21).
UCSF medical center spokesperson Carol Hyman said the hospital had begun reducing the number of patient admissions and had arranged for more than 500 replacement workers for Thursday in anticipation of a strike. Hyman said the hospital would absorb the costs of hiring and training temporary workers (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/21).
Other hospitals in Sacramento saw more ambulance arrivals, emergency department visits and admissions this week. Hospital officials expect continued ED crowding until at least Friday (Sacramento Bee, 7/21).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Wednesday reported on reaction to the judge's order. The segment includes comments from Suzanne DePalma, a nurse at UC-Davis, and Sharon Melberg, assistant director for general nursing services at UC-Davis (Hensley, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/20). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer is available online.
In addition, KPCC's "Talk of the City" on Wednesday included an interview with Geri Jenkins, a nurse at UC-San Diego, about the order (Felde, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 7/20). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.