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Nurses' strike on hold 

A statewide nurses’ strike set for Oct. 30 will not go forward but negotiations are said to be ongoing. The strike would have affected both Arroyo Grande Community Hospital and French Hospital Medical Center.


The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee has been negotiating with Catholic Healthcare West, the largest hospital system in the state, for a new four-year contract, demanding that hospitals do more to prevent the spread of H1N1 among employees and patients.


A California Nurses Association spokeswoman confirmed that the strike was called off just days before approximately 16,000 registered nurses at 39 hospitals throughout California, Arizona, and Nevada were set to walk out for 24 hours.


According to a CHW statement provided by spokesman Chad Burns, however, the strike has not been cancelled but simply “postponed.”


The CNA issued a press release Oct. 19 quoting an August survey of 190 hospitals in which nurses cited “widespread problems with poor segregation of patients, lack of sufficient N95 masks, numerous hospitals where nurses have been infected, inadequate training for hospital staff, and punitive sick leave policies.”


On Oct. 20, the CNA released a 10-day strike warning and in response, the California Hospital Association immediately called on the union to call off the strike, saying it was “about contract negotiations, not H1N1 preparedness.”


“Protecting patients is about more than bargaining rhetoric. It is about truly putting the interests of patients first,” California Hospitals Association President and CEO C. Duane Dauner said in a press release. “Taking nurses out on strike at the very time that hospitals are being flooded with patients needing care is unconscionable.”


In an effort to appease the union, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Oct. 22 released half of the state’s 51 million stockpiled N95 masks in a move CNA Director Rose Ann DeMoro called “long overdue.”


Both parties continue talking in Emeryville.

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