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Chinese Hospital nurses strike for better work conditions

Registered nurses at Chinese Hospital in San Francisco began a one-day strike Tuesday to protest their working conditions, which they say are poor enough to drive away experienced nurses and make it difficult to recruit new ones.

The nurses demonstrated in front of the hospital to call for the administration to create a better working environment, which includes providing bedside RNs with meal and break relief during their shifts.

Sherry Yee, a nurse at Chinese Hospital, said:

“For nurses, this means assuring we have safe staffing at all times. That means having nurses with the experience and expertise to notice and respond to the subtle changes in condition of our extremely vulnerable patients, so that we are able to take the meal and rest breaks we need with the assurance our patients are receiving the care they need.”

The Chinese Hospital nurses, who are a part of the California Nurses Association union, have been negotiating with Chinese Hospital for a collective bargaining contract since February 2020.

Retention of RNs is another issue the strike aims to bring attention to, since the large number of monolingual Chinese-speaking patients require a large number of bilingual RNs.

Nurse Alson Toy said:

“Chinese Hospital RNs are very disappointed that the hospital has not taken more seriously the problem they have created with recruitment and retention. We have lost far too many experienced nurses due to their unwillingness to stay competitive with San Francisco-area RNs.”

Chinese Hospital countered the strike with a news release noting that the hospital has offered nurses a 6.4 percent average wage increase. The hospital also decried the timing of the strike, which began at 7:30 a.m., because 7 a.m. is the “hand off” between the night and day shifts, where nurses are briefed on any developments in their patients’ condition.

Kitman Chan, the hospital’s board of trustees chair, said:

“Chinese Hospital is an important part of our community. … Every time I walk into the Hospital, I see nurses proudly caring for this underserved community. When the CNA strike ends, I know that the nurses will come back where they are needed.”

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