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More than 8,000 Sutter Health nurses, health care workers strike for safe staffing, PPE

More than 8,000 nurses and health care workers are striking today outside 18 Sutter Health facilities across Northern California, including a dozen in the Bay Area.

Union representatives say Sutter Health has refused to address concerns about safe staffing and health and safety protections.

The one-day strike was authorized by a nearly unanimous vote in March and advance notice was given to Sutter Health for the strike, according to the California Nurses Association and the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union.

The nurses and health care workers have been in negotiations since June 2021 for a new contract, with little to no movement on key issues, according to a statement from the union.

Sutter officials, however, said Sunday that the nurses’ strike comes despite the resumption of negotiations that involve a federal mediator.

Sutter said in a statement:

“Work stoppages at 18 of our sites – even for a single day — require complex and costly preparation, and obligate us to make plans that our teams, patients and communities can rely on.” 

Contracted replacement workers would staff the facilities during the strike, according to Sutter.

The nurses are calling on management to invest in nursing staff and agree to a contract that provides safe staffing that allows nurses to provide safe and therapeutic care. The nurses and health care workers also want the hospitals to invest in personal protective equipment stockpiles and comply with California’s PPE stockpile law.

Renee Waters, an intensive care RN with 26 years of experience, said:

“We are striking because Sutter is not transparent about the stockpile of PPE supplies and contact tracing. They resist having nurses directly involved in planning and implementation of policies that affect all of us during a pandemic.”

The nurses are set to picket from 7 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. on Monday at Sutter Health facilities in cities that include Berkeley, Oakland, Vallejo, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Castro Valley, Antioch, Burlingame and Novato.

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