Pinoy nurses in Kaiser hospitals launch 3-day strike

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 23 2011 04:14 PM | Updated as of Sep 24 2011 12:14 AM

LOS ANGELES – Some 2,500 nurses in three Southern California Kaiser Permanent hospitals, walked off their jobs to protest their ongoing contract negotiations.

They will be on strike until Friday.

Nurses from Northern California will join a sympathy strike on Thursday, bringing a total of 23,000 workers on strike. This is believed to be the largest in the hospital’s history. They claimed the hospital giant is trying to reduce their health care benefits and eliminate employee pension plans.

“They won’t give us any pension after 2014, so we will save our pension in the future. We are going to pay more money for our health care so when we get old and when we’re sick, we might not be able to afford the hospital cost because they are taking that away,” said National Union of Health Workers and Kaiser Nurse Irma Dufelmeier.

Nurses are also asking for changes in staffing guidelines such as one patient to one nurse ratio, and proper breaks written into contracts.

Though they don’t have specific numbers, Kaiser says they exceed state standards when it comes to staffing their nurses.

"But there are not enough nurses to relieve other nurses. We just take care of each other,” said nurse Judith Redaluces.

“We want to able to give good quality care for our patients but we need Kaiser to give us proper staffing so we can take care of our patients in a timely manner and a safe way,” explained Dufelmeier.

Kaiser released a statement saying they have given proposals to the nurse’s union in an effort to reach agreements on salary, work hours, work conditions, and benefits. They also said they will continue to negotiate in good faith. The hospital added that patient care is its highest priority and they have made plans to minimize the impact of their services during the 3-day strike.

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