October 10, 2007, 8:53 am

Unbelievable

Here is a press release from CNA/NNOC.  I’m speechless.  This insults not only the California nurses, but it insults the nurses they are trying to recruit.  I can’t speak for every nurse in the country, but it would be a cold day in hell before I ever considered breaking a nursing strike.  Sounds like Sutter has plenty o’ money when they want to have it.

If you want to see it on the original page, the link is here:

 Sutter’s Open Checkbook – for Strikebreakers, Offering $90 per Hour, “luxury hotel” stay

When it comes to paying for professional strike breakers, the sky is apparently the limit for Sutter Health corporation, according to recruitment flyers obtained and released today by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

Nearly 5,000 registered nurses will be on strike Oct. 10 and 11 at 15 Northern California hospitals, all but two part of Sutter Health.

Though CNA provided the hospitals with 12 days, advance notice to allow the hospitals to postpone elective procedures and scale back as needed, and has established patient care task forces of striking RNs to assist in the case of genuine patient emergencies, Sutter officials have chosen to hire strikebreaking agencies for several of their hospitals.

And they are apparently willing to spend unlimited amounts for both the nurses who will cross picket lines and the agencies that bring them in.

One flyer sent to nurses in Ohio offers nurses “up to $90” per hour, airfare or other transportation to the Bay Area, and stays in “luxury accommodations in San Francisco. Minutes from the San Francisco shopping centers and downtown attractions. You are driven to the hospital from your luxury hotel.” (flyer available upon request)

The flyer lists a phone number for Health Source Global Staffing. The flyer says the nurses are “needed between October 8th and October 15” – a clear indication that Sutter intends to lock out some RNs after the strike ends on Oct. 11.

On its website, HSGS also treats the recruitment of professional strike breakers as a luxury tourist opportunity, noting, “See your friends and tour California during the best time of year.”

In addition to exorbitant pay for the strike nurses, travel, hotel, and other benefits, the strike agencies typically demand additional payment for its officials, their travel costs, other perquisites, and office equipment. The total price tag could be in the millions. 

“This is a shameful waste of critical resources by Sutter that could be far better spent on addressing its serious patient care problems and protecting the retirement security of its RNs,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, CNA/NNOC executive director. “The tone of revelry from the recruitment materials shows the disdain these fly-by-night agencies, and the hospital corporations that employ them, have for our communities, and that Sutter has for its RNs.”

17 Comments

  • Mother Jones RN
    Mother Jones RN

    October 10, 2007 at 9:51 am

    There two types of scabs; the type that form over wounds, and the type that cross a picket line. Shame on any nurse that sides with healthcare corporations that don’t give a damn about patients or their nurses.


  • jen
    jen

    October 10, 2007 at 10:21 am

    too bad faststaff only offered me $40/hr, guaranteed 60 hours/week for this strike. At that rate, and hours of work, there is NO time for sight seeing or shopping. Who’s going to take care of the patients that remain in the hospital if the scabs don’t come in?


  • beastarzmom
    beastarzmom

    October 10, 2007 at 10:36 am

    sigh.
    There are at least two sides to every story. Be careful about listening too closely to only one of them.


  • enrico
    enrico

    October 10, 2007 at 10:44 am

    There’s a Sutter executive that’s going to be waking up to a horse’s head in their bed come the morning of the 12th…


  • NYC EMS
    NYC EMS

    October 10, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Lets see how long they can keep that up.They will go broke in no time.


  • JohnS
    JohnS

    October 10, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Hospital is definitely planning lockouts to some degree – see Contra Costa Times article at
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_7136262

    Three (or more) hands here: on one hand, hospitals and nurses ought to be able to treat each other fairly, all under the same rules. When that doesn’t happen, there needs to be recourse.

    On another hand, a walkout/strike is a counter to getting ‘nursing’ treated as a ‘profession’; all the other things about education and college degrees and judgement and licensing get blurred by labor actions. Labor actions, in the public mind, are for trades – lawyers and architects and (mostly) doctors don’t strike. (No knock against trades here, and guilds have a thousand-year tradition of protecting their members.)

    On a third hand, when labor actions are necessary, they ought to have a chance to achieve some positive outcome. Replacement workers (I won’t call them ‘scabs’, see next paragraph) interfere with that likelihood.

    From the viewpoint of out-of-California nurses recruited for these replacements, this probably looks like a vacation. I think California’s nurse-patient ratios, as currently required in law, are a really Good Thing (and one of the strike issues is, of course, exactly how that is supposed to be implemented). Other states don’t have the same rules. I talked to a traveller from the Midwest, and was informed that the expected patient assignment for an RN was 12 patients with a nursing assistant, 15 with both an LVN and an assistant. California’s general rule is 5, sometimes 6, depending. Take that with short-term, northern Cal at it’s absolute best time of the year, paid transportation and housing, and pretty decent pay (large-hospital market here is $42/hr base for RN with 6 mos to 1 year experience, so if they offered you less that was really low-ball) and it’s an offer a lot of folks would see as very attractive.


  • Night Witch
    Night Witch

    October 10, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    California nurse ratios in the ER are 4:1. The only place where ratios are 6:1 is Psych and Post-Partum. It truly amazes me to hear some nurses whine about ratios – “I already have 4 patients” so then poor Mr Kidney Stone has to pace up and down the hall because there is no nurse to care for him. Meanwhile the nurse is leaning against the counter chatting because all 4 of her patients are stable and in the pending mode. Yeah, I know, this is not all nurses, but unfortunately the bad ones really stick in my mind and make me less supportive of this strike.

    In some contracts, nurses are being asked to go through a health assessment and meet six times a year with a wellness coach in order to continue to get current health coverage. If they do not go, they would pay part of the premium for the coverage. Is this so bad? If you don’t want to get healthy then pay something for your coverage.

    At other hospitals, nurses are being told they must go to certain Sutter facilities and to certain doctors for health coverage. Why should Sutter pay for you to go see docs outside the system – this is a good business decision. Nurses can pay part of their insurance if they want more choice just like the average consumer. Currently Sutter nurses pay nothing for their health care. Sutter nurses already get excellent health benefits for both themselves and their families.

    Do Sutter Nurses think they are immune to losing their jobs? Don’t they remember what happened to the Tenet nurses a few years back at Doctors Hospital in San Pablo? All those nurses lost their jobs – forever!

    Sutter nurses want the same contract as Kaiser nurses but they bitch and whine about the Kaiser down-side and don’t want to go their except for the better wages. Kaiser, who is now eliminating NPs because nurse wages are so high now in California and they can get a family practice doctor for the same price.

    Remember the days of no ER techs or ancillary staff? Now California ERs are crammed with ancillary personnel — people that have taken over lots of nursing responsibilities because they are cheaper.

    I am a nurse first, NP/PA second and I love my nursing colleagues, but it is difficult to be supportive when I see nurses letting CNA feed them loads of crap instead of critically thinking out the issues. There are definitly two sides to the issue.

    Ok, bring it on – I can take it (smile)


  • Kim
    Kim

    October 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Kristy!

    Great post!

    Some nurses are lazy, no question. I can tell you that in my ER, if your patients are okay and someone else is swamped, you help their patients, too.

    Interestingly enough, the worst ER for care in this area (I’ve had bad experiences) is a Sutter ER, and it sucked before Sutter took over the hospital! I worked there briefly – it’s as bad from the inside out as it is from the outside in!

    I actually worked with Sutter in three facilities when they first came into the area. I had heard lousy things growing up in Sacramento, but in the beginning things did not change and I thought bigger is better in terms of having the ability to provide care.

    The thing with Sutter is that they swore up and down when we VOTED them IN as a community — No hospital closures! Now, they are talking closures.

    Sutter took over my hospital and things were fine. I left Sutter about six years ago (not because of anything bad, just the new place wasn’t Sutter) and in that time the care has deteriorated. I know because my patients on the OTHER side of the bay tell me how horrible the care is now at the nice hospital I worked at for ten years.

    I don’t always agree politically with CNA. Never have. But those great staffing ratios – CNA was a huge push. I make $60.00 on the night shift because of CNA contracts. I’ve worked at non-CNA hospitals and the benefits are less and the pay is definitely less than at a CNA hospital. I don’t care about salaries, we make more than any other nurses in the country here in the Bay Area.

    Kaiser didn’t always have such good contracts – they had their “strikes”, only they did one-day walk outs. Now Kaiser has the best contracts.

    It’s hard to say. I’m ambivalent about CNA, but the reason my working conditions are a great as they are is because of thirty years of negotiations. I have an innate distrust of management because they will give as little as they can get away with. The non-CNA hospitals prove that.

    Thanks for the post; you made some very good points/observations. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Kim : )


  • sue s
    sue s

    October 10, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    I am 100% behind the california nurses, who are often leaders in issues within nursing. They set an example for us with their hard work around staffing ratios. They are willing to stand behind what they believe in


  • MEL
    MEL

    October 10, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    As an ex-California RN who now lives(due to marriage) on the east coast in a “deep south” state, I more strongly than ever support the CNA and it’s new national offshoot that is working nation-wide to enact nurse-patient ratios and other drastically needed changes in care.

    I have been a nurse 23 years with 10 of them in California. You cannot imagine the nightmare state that exists in other states. Most of my worklife has been in ER/ICU/Public-Health-Mental Health and Psych. In this state it is the norm, rather than the exception for nurses to have 3+ ICU patients. In my last job in an ICU, I was charging in a 12 bed unit in which there might be me and 3 new grads for 10 or more patients, routinely. This included my having to respond to all codes in the 200+ bed hospital, as well as being responsible for all the tele monitoring on the med-surg floors and step-down unit, as the monitors were in our unit. A last straw for me was when the tele tech got sick and management’s reponse was that I could just “keep on top of” all the tele units inbetween caring for my patients and supervising the entire unit.

    I am currently back in psych/chemical dependency nursing. The MAXIMUM number of RNs on a DUAL(CD/Psych combined) unit with 35-44 actively detoxing patients is TWO. Prior to about 1 year ago, it was ONE. The maximum number of RNs on the adult acute psych unit, with 25-38 patients @ any given time is also TWO. Prior to one year ago, it was ONE.

    I am not well infromed on what is going on @ Sutter. But I have repeatedly educated nurses in both facilities I’ve worked in here about why they do NOT want to take a travel job such as the one described in this instance, which involves crossing a picket line.(I did traveling for a year and loved it – but NOT EVER due to nurse-management issues.)I am also constantly educating them on the reality of nursing in other places and the need to band together to change some of the horrendous practices I am currently dealing with.

    I hope everyone here is aware of Health Care Now! and the movement behind universal health care in this country and a single-payer source. This will also impact the super-greedy healthcare corporate environment which luckily, I have spent very little of my career in, but am now nursing in. As long as we have healthcare for profit, we can’t truly fix healthcare.

    If you don’t know much or enough about HEalthcareNow! and and HR 676, PLEASE educate yourself. A great place to go is the blog: Over My Med Body. At the top of the site, he has a section you can click on called “single payer.” Sign the petition and get active!


  • beajerry
    beajerry

    October 11, 2007 at 7:22 am

    I yearn for a union over here in Colorado to help fix the shit ratios.
    I’m sooo burnt on having 6 patients plus two or three admits every night.


  • Night Witch
    Night Witch

    October 11, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Kim, You are absolutely correct about California Nurses Association (CNA) making nurse conditions what they are today – better and I am a firm believer in ratios (though I would like to see some nurses be a bit more flexible with this) during times of crisis in ERs. Unfortunately, not all the studies have demonstrated that the ratios in California have improved patient care, though ultimately I am sure they have. But ratios are NOT the issue with the Sutter strike and this is where I question CNA.

    The propaganda on the news and put out by nurses is that some Sutter Facilities have ignored the law and not obeyed ratios and this absolutly untrue. Sutter takes seriously the current state law regarding nurse to patient staffing ratios. Not only do they meet those ratios, the California Department of Health Services has visited these hospital and confirmed with the law. It would be plain stupid for a hospital to ignore this law.

    I think this strike is more about CNA’s desire for system wide contract language that will allow the union to organize more members at other non-union hospitals in the Sutter family.

    While union leaders say this strike is about quality care and staffing issues – the fact is that these are not the issues at all and the public is totally misled.

    Existing contract language on staffing and patient care is very similar to or better than the contracts CNA has already agreed to with other hospitals. However, those contracts also have language that allows the union to more easily grow its membership.

    Sutter recognizes that in order to keep and attract quality nurses they must keep wages and benefits competitive with other nurses in this labor market and they did offer the following:

    Market competitive wages, with a 25% wage increase over the life of the contract!
    Zero-premium health care coverage for RNs and their families – this is absolutely amazing to me, given that I do not work for Sutter and have a $300 co-pay a month for my family. The deal is this wellness coach thing that nurses are resisting. Heaven forbid nurses get help toward taking care of themselves and staying healthy.
    Retiree healthcare spending account
    Industry-leading retirement plan, and more… When you look at the contract they offer — it is not a bad gig and in line with other CNA non-Sutter facilities.

    Regarding the tremendous amount of money Sutter is paying to get nursing coverage for the strike – this is the money that nurses were offered before the strike. They were offered an additional $2000 bonus each (might have been more, I can’t remember) to sign the contract by this past Sunday and they declined. Over 5000 nurses opted not to take this bonus so Sutter brought in temporary quality care to staff and yes, they have to pay big bucks to get these nurss here.

    I am not saying Sutter is innocent and without problems – but they are non-profit hospitals, and in the SF Bay area, Sutter hospitals give more charity care (FREE) than any other hospital.

    All over the SF Bay area Sutter nurses are carrying signs that say “Sutter Nurses demand Safe patient care” because that is what gets the public on the nurses side. Public loves nurses and they see signs like that and think this is the issue BUT patient care is not the issue at all!!! Heck, I bet 50% of the nurses don’t understand what the issues truly are because they buy the current CNA propaganda.

    Why can’t CNA be honest?


  • JohnS
    JohnS

    October 11, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    “Why can’t CNA be honest?”

    For the same reasons every union eventually reaches – the folks running it like the power and want more.

    Generally speaking unions are adopted by workers because of horrible treatment (or tales of horrible treatment) by employers. After some amount of struggle, the union usually prevails, and over time the working conditions improve significantly. Success brings more membership. More membership brings more dues money. More money brings more power to influence government to benefit the unions, so they can have more members …

    The union presidents and officers fully intend to Use Their Power For Good. See also Lord Acton.


  • Nurse K
    Nurse K

    October 12, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    It’s not the patients’ fault that you and your employer can’t agree—that’s between you all and your employer. $90/hr? Sweet deal for people who aren’t tied down.


  • ERMurse
    ERMurse

    October 12, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    I just returned from the ENA confrence in Salt Lake City and almost every ED Nurse I networked with who was not from California spoke about their working conditions. The norm is 6-8 patients of various acuity and they do it for much less money than California Nurses in most cases. Despite that ENA refuses to take a stand in favor of ratios, something I dont get. Maybe its because their leadership is heavily weighted with Managers rather than Staff Nurses. I also am frustrated by many new California Nurses who did not live through the struggles and poor staffing conditions that lead to California adopting ratios. They enjoy the fruits of the strugle but wont give up a couple of days to keep Hospital Chains like Sutter from using creative methods to get around the law. We live in a immediate gradification society which is sad.


  • Rob
    Rob

    October 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I have a pretty big problem with this. I don’t think it’s appropriate in any way to let patient care suffer because you’re having an issue with benefits or pay. You can’t blame a hospital for the nurses deciding to strike. I think the people who should be complaining is the ancillary staff who complete tasks that used to be nursing duties. The same staff making 8 dollars an hour to do things nurses used to do. I see more and more responsiblility being taken off of nurses yet they want more and more in return. At my hospital they don’t even draw blood any more. Why do we have an entire phlebotomy department that goes around floor to floor, why do we have runners to go pick up labs? More often than not I see nurses in my own hospital with entirely too much time on their hands yet they’re the one’s who always complain about work loads. They’re the one’s who complain.

    I’ll compare an avergae medical technologist and an average nurse here at my hospital.

    I honestly believe a lab tech needs to have a broader base of knowledge. There are very few specialist, nurses however work their particular field and floor and really only have to have a limited knowledge base.

    Generally they both have the same level of responsibility but nurses earn more.

    There is a program at my hospital that will allow a nurse to work 3 twelve hour shifts and get paid for forty hours in a work week. No such benefits exist for our lab.

    I’m just upset that lab workers have a lower pay fewer benefits, the same level of responsibility and even less respect. Even with all this, When was the last time you heard of a medical technologist’s striking?

    I hate to be the “Bad guy” but it seems like everyone is blinded by some attitude that we always deserve more. The last time I checked nurses were comensated well. It’s not going to be a struggle top put food on your table, but it very well may be for your ancillary staff.


  • kiko
    kiko

    October 21, 2007 at 9:04 am

    if u would compare california nurses from nurses in my country you would not believe that our nurses handles 1:25 or higher to public hospitals and in private 1:10. Our situation here is more worst but we cant do anything, perhaps thats one of the reason why our nurses leave and go to US because of benefits, salary. and oppurtuities. Its a nice blog, i was informed of the nurses situation in different places thanks to blog.


About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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