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We are the 99 percent

Bay Area Nurses Announce May 1st Walkout

Posted 12 years ago on April 23, 2012, 11:48 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt


4500 nurses in the San Francisco Bay Area will walk out of work on May 1st to protest more than a hundred cuts to health care services and RN standards planned -- despite massive profits -- by their hospital chain, Sutter Health. National Nurses United, which represents thousands of nurses with affiliates across the U.S., has long been an ally of Occupy Wall Street, even assisting with first aid at Liberty Square since October, 2011. NNU will also join occupiers and other allies in Chicago on May 18th for a massive march against austerity, war, and the global 1%.

For more information on May Day, please visit our directory of over 120 U.S. cities to find out how you can show solidarity with nurses and the rest of the 99%! See below for the full press release from the Bay Area nurses.

Bay Area Sutter Nurses Plan May 1 Walkout


With the wealthy Sutter Health corporation continuing to demand more than 100 sweeping reductions in patient care and nurses’ standards and workplace conditions, registered nurses at eight Northern California Sutter hospitals will hold a one-day strike May 1, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.

Some 4,500 RNs are affected by the planned walkout, which will occur at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Lakeside.

Despite making over $4 billion in profits since 2007, and handing its chief executive Pat Fry a 215 percent pay hike to over $4 million a year, Sutter is demanding huge cuts for its RNs, many of which would pose risks to patient safety. Since the last strike in December, the corporate chain has refused to modify its massive call for cuts, and at several hospitals imposed reductions in standards for nurses and their families.

“As an RN at Sutter Delta Medical Center, I feel I need to go on strike for the safety of my patients,” said Sutter Delta RN Amy Black. “The medical center is attempting to take away sick leave, vacation time, and education time which effectively forces me to come to work sick, stressed, and not up to date on the latest advancements of my profession.”

In a meeting of CNA’s Sutter Joint Bargaining Council attended by dozens of Sutter RNs this week, a number of nurses repeated their desire to challenge Sutter’s attacks on nurses and patients, voicing support for the next walkout.

“These takeaways represent the greed and misplaced priorities of Sutter in its ongoing pursuit of profits over quality patient care given by the RNs,” said Alta Bates Summit RN Mike Hill. “We will continue to fight the cuts by Sutter and defend our profession and our communities.”

Among the many concession demands at various Sutter hospitals:

  • Eliminating paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
  • Forcing RNs to work in hospital areas for which they do not have appropriate clinical expertise, again a safety risk for patients.
  • Huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage for themselves and family members.
  • Limits on the ability of charge nurses, who make clinical assignments for nurses, to address staffing shortages, subjecting patients to the danger of unsafe staffing.
  • Forcing RNs to work overtime, exposing patients to care from fatigued nurses who are more prone to making medical errors.
  • Eliminating retiree health plans.
  • Eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work less than 30 hours per week.
  • Reduced pregnancy and family medical leave, undermining RN families.
  • Concurrently, Sutter continues to make substantial cuts in patient services throughout the region, especially in areas it considers inadequately profitable, such as mental health, cancer screening, and services for women, children, and seniors.

    “Sutter’s tone at the bargaining table has been dismissive and disrespectful of nurses' concerns,” said Mills-Peninsula RN Genel Morgan. “They have misjudged our resolve to stand up and safeguard our nursing standards, and to ensure our patients don’t suffer from Sutter wanting to cut these standards. Sutter has used half truths and lies to justify its objectives, but we see right through them, much as the community sees through them whenever Sutter cuts services.”

    Yet, Sutter is hardly the picture of a floundering small business. Over the past five years, Sutter has racked up nearly $4.2 billion in profits, according to its own audited financial statements. Further, Sutter pays 21 top executives salaries over $1 million, several of them getting pay hikes of over 150 percent since 2005.

    “Sutter has passed the stage of ‘too big to fail’ going to ‘too big to care’,” said CNA/NNU co-president Zenei Cortez, RN. “They have shown they are far more interested in amassing wealth than caring about community health or the nurses who provide care for the patients, who are the base of Sutter’s huge profits. Sutter RNs will never accept a reduced voice to speak out for patients, or an erosion in their own standards.”

    Sutter’s additional abandonment of communities and patients (partial list):

  • End breast cancer screening for women with disabilities and most bone marrow transplant services for cancer patients at Alta Bates Summit in Oakland and Berkeley.
  • Stop providing psychiatric services under contract with Sacramento County for more than 225 Sacramento children.
  • Close specialized pediatric care, acute rehabilitation, dialysis, and skilled nursing care services at Mills and Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo.
  • Close home health services and limit acute-care hospital stays in Lakeport.
  • Close acute rehabilitation services, skilled nursing care, and psychiatric services, and substantially downgrade nursery care for sick children at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.
  • Sharply cut psychiatric care at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.
  • Close a birthing center at Sutter Auburn Faith, forcing new mothers and families to travel up to 100 miles for obstetrics care, while giving a $1 million gift to the Sacramento Kings.
  • Close pediatric, psychiatric, lactation, and transitional care services in Santa Rosa.



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[-] 4 points by chell8 (9) 12 years ago

This is great. A sad state of affairs to be sure, but a clear line drawn. Thank you to these nurses..i applaud your courage and solidarity with your fellow man, and your committment to the field of nursing and that most important role of patient advocate!

[-] 3 points by factsrfun (8310) from Phoenix, AZ 12 years ago

Yeah nurses!

[-] 3 points by Wiseman55 (9) 12 years ago

More good news from the Bay Area:

North Bay Labor Council Grants Strike Sanction to Golden Gate Labor Coalition

Golden Gate Bridge, Bus, and Ferry Workers Prepare for Possible May Day Strike to Protect Good Jobs and Healthcare


[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 12 years ago

It takes people inside the system to really point out the abuses and failings of that system. Outsiders can see perhaps something wrong, insiders know the intimate facts. We all know the heath care provider service is fucked-up those inside truly live with the facts and knowledge.

Thank you to all inside of the system for speaking out.

The rest of us need to listen find the facts and support the cause.

[-] 2 points by Bighead1883 (285) 12 years ago

It is the epitome of the GREEDY corporate class that transcends profit over people in healthcare,education and the prison system.Only union action can rectify the imbalance and clearly shows that none of these should ever have been privatized from State or Federal ownership.

[-] 2 points by MachineShopHippie (216) from Louisville, KY 12 years ago

In the last few years I have seen an alarming number of people close to me have their lives decimated by cancer and other diseases. Throughout the miserable weeks, months or years of their treatment, it was the nurses who took the time to really care for my loved ones. The doctors were great at reading test results and prescribing treatment, but the nurses were the ones to actually stop and ask how they were doing. And then they listened. And answered questions. And went the extra mile, whether it was showing my grandmother for the 17th time how the controls to her bed worked, or casually being preoccupied anywhere else when my friend and I brought a puppy to visit her aunt during chemo.

Nurses don't get into the business to get rich. The vast majority of the ones I know are just turbo-nurturers. They exist to help the weak and suffering. They are one of the few professions where the majority of the people seem to have a 'calling'.

I support these nurses striking for better conditions, better care, and more emphasis on the health of the patients and caretakers. But more importantly, I support the future nurses of this country. Where will nurses come from when it becomes one of the worst jobs with the worst benefits?

When that child tells their mom that they want to be a nurse, will she encourage that desire, or will she tell that one potential future nurse that it's a terrible job and that almost anything else would be better? Are we seriously trying to be a country where people can't afford to dedicate their lives to helping their fellow man?

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 12 years ago

WOW - well said. Very well said.


[-] 2 points by OccNoVi (415) 12 years ago

That is why we need strong unions.

Nurses are correct. They also compare what Sutter HC is doing, compared with the federal Veterans Health Affairs operations.

VA pays more and provides health care a 1/2 to 1/3d of what Sutter is doing. The difference ??? VA does no fraudulent referrals, no extra prescriptions, nothing but good solid treatment.

Yeah, nurses !!


[-] 1 points by MartinEder (1) from Jamul, CA 12 years ago

MAY DAY: Several San Diego locations and events http://activistsandiego.org/node/3771

Imagine my surprise to see that SAN DIEGO was not listed among the 115 US Cities. If a series of multiple events which ha been in the planning for months is not on this list -- it means that a hundred other smaller events are still to be listed --- it means this US May Day will reach historic proportions only rivaled by the Immigration rights upsurge of 2006. - Martin Eder

~~~~ SAN DIEGO ~~~~~ 12pm Rally at Civic Center Plaza (speakers: janitor, teacher, student, taxi driver, Occupy Labor Solidarity). March to Wal-Mart site in Sherman Heights by 2pm

2-4pm Occupy San Diego events at Civic Center

3:30 SDEA Rally at Roosevelt Middle and march to Board Meeting

4-6pm OSD Labor Solidarity Rally at Civic Center and march

5:30pm Chicano Park Celebration

MAY DAY 2012: A day without the 99%.

May day is about the debt imposed on you for daring to dream about a college education.

It’s about the healthcare you can’t afford, the family member with a disease which goes untreated because they lack insurance.

It’s about your car that got repo-ed after you lost your job.

It’s about your home that got foreclosed on by the bank.

It’s about your family, who came here for a better future, and got lost in the broken immigration system, and found that they’re denied access to legal work, education and security because they’re undocumented.

It’s about you, the gay kid who gets bullied at school, and will grow up in a country which denies you equality and humanity, simply because you love someone of the same gender.

It’s about the fact there’s no jobs, even if you got that college education and those grades.

It’s about the single mother who struggles to support her kids on minimum wage - which is not a living wage.

It’s about the woman who makes it through Harvard, works her butt off in one of the best law firms in the country, and constantly loses out on that promotion because she’s not a man.

It’s about the homeless African-American man who lives on the street and gets thrown in jail for peeing in a park, because there are no toilet facilities on the street for those like him.

It’s about the protester who gets beaten and thrown in jail for holding a sign in a public space which says he want equality.

It’s about the farmer who’s had to leave his home and work, because the state raised his land tax.

It’s about the father who loses a son to a pointless war over oil in a foreign land.

It’s about the fact this is not the America we were brought up to believe in.


This event has been organized by workers, union and non union to tell the 1% NO MORE! We will be marching from Civic Center to demonstrate in front of the banks that have taken our homes, the state building for taking our medical care, the ICE building that has deported and destroyed families and all other places that have waged a war on working people!!

SAVE THE DATE and Stay tuned for more event updates!

More info visit: www.occupylaborsolidarity.org or http://www.occupymay1st.org/

[-] 0 points by thien (0) from Foster City, CA 12 years ago

This is a one sided article. Basically, SH is trying to get the nurses to have the same benefits as all the other SH employees. This "taking away sick leave" is basically SH calling it a different name and reducing the number of sick days but allowing it to roll over year after year. The making nurses pay huge out of pocket costs for insurance--only if the nurses want to get medical treatment outside of SH--like at John Muir or Kaiser. Medical insurance is free if you go to SH hospitals/affiliates (SH EE's don't pay for insurance and only pay co-pays). All other company insurances expect you to pay higher amounts if you go out of network, why shouldn't SH? Basically, these nurses want all these perks that no one else in the company has.

They talk about all these profits of SH. --Because SH nurses are underpaid? They (along with all SH EEs) are paid average to above average for the SF bay area. And SH is not talking about cutting their wages anyways. They just want them to have the same benefits as all other employees. Unfortunately, where these nurses are going on strike, Alta Bates, Delta, Eden, ALL of these hospitals have lost significant amounts of money --they don't have a net profit, they have a NET LOSS. This is why SH is closing certain services in the east bay, SH can't afford it, despite the other SH profitable hospitals helping out.

If the nurses keep going on strike and don't compromise, then when Obamacare rolls out and the hospital gets reimbursed 10 cents for every dollar SH spends, they're going to find they've caused a lot of people to lose their jobs when SH in the east bay fails.

You might think I'm in some corporate manager making tons of money and advocating for SH, well I'm not. I'm just someone at SH who sees the numbers and can see the GREED OF THE NURSES.

There is no way SH would ever tell a nurse to come to work sick. I'm not even near patients and am told continuously if I'm sick not to come in, and not just that, if we have a certain bug, we're told to stay home for at least xx amount of days! The idea that SH doesn't care about it's patients is ridiculous, and if the nurses really felt that way, then why are they still working for SH?

No what's really at hand here is the nurses greed. They talk about patient care suffering --but the unions aren't fighting to keep the services SH cut to be reinstated, they're fighting for the nurses BENEFITS. Please read carefully and decide here who really is the greedy ones. I'm a lowly SH employee, but I'm damn proud to work for this organization where "support service" team members do all they can as well to help make patient visits better (like push around lost patients in wheel chairs, walking people through the confusing place called a hospital, etc). I'm compensated fairly as the nurses are, work as hard as the typical nurse here (I'm salaried and work 45-50 hrs a week), but have half the perks they do.

Corporate greed? SH is planning for the Obamacare initiative and ensuring that we all have jobs in 2014. What are the nurses doing but fighting for their own greed, at the expense of less charity care for our patients? At the expense of other departments going without.

Makes me sad... Why do you think the picket line cross over rate is so high?

[-] 0 points by MrsSaub (0) 12 years ago

Why punish the patients to make their point? Because it makes them just as greedy as corporations because they want to be making 6 figure incomes. Yes their jobs are important and appreciated but their wanting more is what is going to cause expenses to go up too. I sure hope that if any of those nurses get sick and have to be hospitalized that their nurses don't walk out on them. The patients don't deserve to be abandoned, we the patients did not do this to you so quit punishing us to make your point to your employees. No one forces you to work where you do, you can always find a job where your employee can meet your needs. If everyone would just learn to be content with the basic necessities of life then maybe just maybe all of this madness would end. You choose the car you drive and the house you buy no one forces you to keep up with the Joneses, you make that choice all on your own. People quit buying things on credit or take out a loan that you can't afford to pay back. Those are the people you should be protesting against. No one forces people to get things on credit or get the loans they do when does personal accountability come into play? Ok the nurses want more pay then offer a solution as to how the hospital or corporation they work for can cut costs or make more money to pay them what they want. Oh then that means that health care will go up because health insurance will get charged more for services because the greedy nurses want to make more money. They prove how greedy they are by walking out....if you aren't greedy then prove it by being loyal to the patients and do not walk out.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 12 years ago

What makes you think a single patient is being hurt? Have the nurses walked out in the middle of their shifts or have they joined the protest in shifts after work, as is done almost everywhere in the event of nurses strikes? Do you know?

Why should nurses accept higher work-loads, a higher patient to nurse ratio (THAT would hurt patients) for less pay while the corporation makes over a four BILLION dollars in PROFITS? On whose backs were those profits made? How can a corporation take away health care benefits to health GIVERS by denying them insurance? Do you see no irony there? The nurses are not striking for higher pay (did you read the article at all?), they are striking to prevent real cuts to them as well as to major patient services while the executives are giving themselves raises in the millions of dollars.

Did you read the parts about facilities being closed, and closed simply because they are not profitable ENOUGH for the corporation? Some people will DIE as a result of these cuts. So tell me again, who is it that is "punishing" patients?

[-] 0 points by pulmonaryKid (-1) 12 years ago

Add to that the 2012 changes in Medicare A benefit for SNF level care which cut reimbursement by 18%!

Of course they are closing their rehabs and home health! With california's state budget problems of course they are cutting back on services provided mainly to Medicaid patients! They won't get paid!

[-] 0 points by pulmonaryKid (-1) 12 years ago

You people really have zero understanding of the healthcare industry and the current climate. The fact that the highest paid nurses in the world are staging a "walk out" in the name of PATIENT SAFETY of all things.

Healthcare organizations are making adjustments because of the looming changes in the reimbursement structure which WILL result in many, many organizations going under. Just because they were profitable yesterday doesn't mean a thing. CMS guidelines can change on a whim ( and state backed funding WILL change in the immediate future ) putting this organization at risk of losing it's financial viability.

[-] 0 points by purgatorios (0) 12 years ago

well then perhaps they should be saving some of those $4.2 billion dollars in profits for a rainy day. Oh wait, the nurses' health care and working conditions, which are part of the patients' care conditions, ARE being used as a rainy day fund. I get that you support that, but I think if times get hard, companies should look first at the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF PROFITS and second if at all at the HEALTH BENEFITS AND SICK DAYS FOR WORKING NURSES. Luckily, a lot of the world is with me, and we're starting to win.

[-] 0 points by pulmonaryKid (-1) 12 years ago

What do you think those "billions of dollars in profits" go to?

They don't just disappear into thin air... They are being poured into R&D and are being invested in the business itself to continue it's success.

We aren't sending these people down mine shafts for minimum wage to die of black lung... They are losing benefits and sick time, as is THE REST OF THE WORLD.

[-] 1 points by MachineShopHippie (216) from Louisville, KY 12 years ago

Sutter doesn't do R&D, and 'invested in the business itself' should mean improving their offerings, not taking sick days away from people who really shouldn't EVER work while they're sick. Their executive salaries are disgraceful in light of the cuts they want their employees to make. When they ask for austerity, they need to start at the top.

[-] -2 points by pulmonaryKid (-1) 12 years ago

And just so you know, profit doesn't translate the way most people think it does. I can profit $100m this year, but to stay viable next year I need to invest $95m of that by the end of first quarter.... And so on and so on...