January 29, 1998 in Nation/World

Nurses Strike Kaiser Hmo In California Claim Cost-Cutting Moves Have Hurt Quality Of Patient Care At 54 Hospitals

Associated Press

Registered nurses started a twoday strike Wednesday against 54 Kaiser Permanente medical facilities in California after contract talks broke down.

It was their fourth walkout since their contract expired last January.

Supervisors of Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties declared states of emergency because clinics and hospitals were filled to capacity, and San Francisco health officials ordered city hospitals to take critical care patients even if they’re full.

More than six hours of talks were held during the night in efforts to avert the strike by about 7,500 members of the California Nurses Association, who work at hospitals and clinics throughout Northern California.

The main point of contention is staffing; union officials claim Kaiser’s cost-cutting tactics have hurt the quality of patient care.

Kaiser has offered a 2 percent a year raise for six years in the San Francisco Bay area and 2 percent a year to all Northern California nurses based on performance.

Rosemary Wood, a nurse and member of the union’s bargaining team, said many nurses were willing to leave the picket line to help with any major crises at Kaiser facilities - an offer Kaiser has rejected.

Striking nurses formed a referral network to offer their services to non-Kaiser hospitals, she said.

The Kaiser health maintenance organization serves one of every three Northern Californians with health insurance.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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