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  • 1200 LA Nurses Begin One Week Strike Against Kaiser Permanente
    Updated On: Mar 22, 2016

    By JoAnne Pow!ers, March 16, 2016:

    1200 nurses began a one-week strike Tuesday morning at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center. The nurses, who joined the California Nurses Association last summer, are striking over working conditions and not having a contract over the last six years. Karen Chan is the union’s chief bargaining representative:

    [Karen Chan]: “The nurses are really concerned that over the last six years, Kaiser has centralized a lot of services to Los Angeles Medical Center, and essentially made it a regional specialty center, but they’ve also seen in the last six years a steady decline of the conditions and resources available for the nurses to do their jobs adequately and take care of the patients properly.”

    Joel (jo-ell) Briones, a registered nurse at the Center and a member of the bargaining committee, says one of the nurses’ main concerns is that chronic understaffing hurts both workers and their patients:

    [Joel Briones]: “California was the only to have nurse to patient ratio in the nation. Kaiser has been constantly and chronically violating that, short-staffing, which in turn short-changes their patients with the care that they need.”

    The company has frozen the nurses’ wages for the last six years:

    [Joel Briones]: “It’s basically wage theft, because all the other Kaisers in this region, in Southern California, have gotten their yearly wage. Kaiser’s Los Angeles Medical Center is the flagship of Southern California, yet in the face of multi-billion dollar profit, they have frozen our wages. Additionally, this year, they continued with this wage theft by highjacking compensation related to performance.”

    Briones is also concerned about recruitment and retention of experienced nurses:

    [Joel Briones]: “We perform heart procedures here that are not available in other Kaiser services in the Southern California region…brain surgeries, pediatric and neuro-surgeries, transplants and cancer treatments, so we need expertise of the nurses.”

    Before the strike, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter calling on hospital management to “negotiate in good faith and agree to a fair contract". Chan says Sanders has stood by the nurses for a long time.

    [Karen Chan]: “Just a few years ago when the Kaiser nurses were very concerned about Ebola, 400 of the nurses demanded Kaiser provide protection for the nurses, but also for the public. Senator Sanders actually walked with the nurses in Oakland. He’s been a long-time supporter of the Nurses. The Nurses support him, because really everything he values…wanting everyone to have access to health care, wanting everyone to be able to have a college education, wanting economic equality, wanting racial equality. All those things Senator Sanders values, essentially the nurses value it, too.”

    With six more days to go, the workers’ remain fired up:

    [Joel Briones]: “We will be here every day to voice out to the public. The nurses are ready to fight to convey that message to do it right by the nurses.”
     


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