Registered nurses in San Joaquin County’s health system are planning a five-day strike, starting Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7 a.m.
The strike is being staged to denounce what nurses say is the administration’s refusal to address RNs’ deep concerns about patient care, safe staffing, and personal protective equipment (PPE), and to protest San Joaquin County executives’ demands for extreme contract changes, according to the California Nurses Association (CNA).
The strike will conclude on Monday, Oct. 12 at 6:59 a.m.
After nearly two years of bargaining, management has demonstrated an overwhelming disrespect for nurses, at and away from the bargaining table, charged the CNA. The San Joaquin Board of Supervisors has remained silent and has not offered any support to the nurses or the community that uses county health care services.
“As a county RN, I have committed to serving and caring for my community and I simply cannot allow the board of supervisors to erode our working conditions and our contract,” said Stacey Lo, an RN who works in the Family Medical Center. “When the county is attacking us nurses, they are directly attacking the patients and we as nurses must stand up against that, which is why I support this strike.”
Registered nurses in the San Joaquin County system (San Joaquin General Hospital, public health, and jail) participating in the strike will gather at San Joaquin General Hospital, 500 W. Hospital Road, French Camp and at the San Joaquin County Administration Building, 44 North San Joaquin St., Stockton
According to a press release from the CAN, “During one of the most dangerous pandemics in history, management is violating state staffing laws by understaffing critical-care units, which puts patients and nurses at risk; failing to provide sufficient PPE for RNs to do their jobs safely; and demanding cuts to their contract that would result in high nurse turnover.”
Additionally, the CNA has filed Cal/OSHA complaints against the county for not providing safe PPE.
In March 2020, San Joaquin County nurses went out on strike for two days and then the San Joaquin General Hospital RNs were locked out by management when they tried to return to work.
“The hospital hired temp nurses at a cost of nearly $3 million, when it could have better spent that money settling the contract,” said the CNA release.
Nurses assert that the county is violating California’s safe nurse-to-patient ratios law. The county requested a waiver of nurse-to-patient ratios from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and was granted the waiver.
The union has put the county on notice and demanded that they rescind the waiver, but the county continues to put nurses and patients in danger, according to information included in the release.
“Nurses overwhelmingly voted again to go out on strike because we see no other option left for us and our patients,” said Vicki Hoge, an RN in the intensive care nursery. “The county needs to make the health of our patients a priority and stop this unnecessary attack against nurses.”
To date, San Joaquin nurses have held a town hall in September, shift change actions in May and July, a two-day strike in March, and an informational picket in July 2019 to highlight their concerns about patient safety, staffing, and public health.
Public-sector nurses with similar patient care concerns at Alameda Health System in the Bay Area are also scheduled to begin a five-day strike Oct. 7.
The California Nurses Association represents nearly 800 nurses at San Joaquin County system, consisting of public health and county jail nurses as well as nurses at San Joaquin General Hospital, the only trauma center in the county.