Nurses union jeopardizes patients with 1-day strikes
Long Beach Press Telegram

Patients love their nurses. Hospitals do, too. Nurses provide the caring touch and clinical expertise that’s integral to ensuring safe patient care every day in hospitals throughout California. Sadly, the labor union that represents some California nurses seems to have a different priority on the role that nurses should play this holiday season. On Thursday, while most of us were wrapping gifts and preparing to be with our families, the leaders of California’s nurses union directed their members to walk away from their patients and onto the picket lines.

Local community hospitals are committed to being there for you 24 hours a day, even during the holidays. Unfortunately, the bosses of the California Nurses Association labor union aren’t demonstrating this same commitment to patient care. Union leaders called a one-day strike at several hospitals in Long Beach and the Bay Area, urging nurses to abandon their sick and vulnerable patients and instead carry picket signs.

This strike is not about the wages and benefits that nurses earn, nor is it about improving patient care. It’s about CNA’s attempt to grow its membership, increase the amount of dues it collects and advance an aggressive political agenda. This union, which represents less than one-fourth of all nurses in California, already rakes in nearly $5 million per month in member dues. Growing its membership means more dues money into the union’s political coffers.

No one wants a strike, especially not community hospitals that are dedicated to providing 24/7 access to care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay. California nurses already earn some of the highest salaries and enjoy some of the richest benefits in the nation.

In most cases, full-time nurses in California hospitals earn more than $100,000 per year and generous employer-paid health care and healthy retirement benefits. The hospitals being struck have been engaged in good-faith negotiations with the union for many months. Even though bargaining with the union has not reached an impasse, the union has ordered an unnecessary strike.

This is the same union that has called nearly 50 strikes at California hospitals in the past 14 months. Most recently, this union violated a no-strike clause in its contract with one California health care system. Union leaders’ words ring hollow when the union puts its own agenda above patients.

Nurses are valuable hospital employees, and they are well paid for the care they provide. At the same time, community hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that care remains available and affordable to those who need it.

In this economy, with record-high unemployment and so many families struggling, we need to ask the nurses union — when is enough enough? High quality, safe patient care is a shared responsibility of hospitals, nurses, doctors and patients. Instead of nurses walking picket lines this holiday season, they should be putting patients first. It’s what patients expect and deserve.