Don’t Be Tricked: Nurses with a Living Wage Improve Patient Care!

This article is reprinted from the Speak Out Now healthcare newsletter at Kaiser and Highland Hospitals in Oakland, CA.

Last week, Santa Clara County nurses of the Registered Nurses Professional Association went on a three-day strike at three public hospitals – Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (VMC), O’Connor and St. Louise. This was the union’s first-ever strike as negotiations with the county reached an impasse over wage increases and working conditions. The nurses have been without a contract since October, and are asking the county for a 15% wage increase, and relocating nurses for temporary assignments to adjust for patient volume.

The mainstream media is once again playing into the hands of the bosses. County Executive James Williams put out a statement saying that with so many nurses on strike, the county has had to spend more than $20 million to cover the gap and bring in nearly 1,000 contract nurses to work around-the-clock shifts across the three-day strike. What about using that very money to pay the nurses the salary they deserve? Local news coverage has also publicized a manipulative story about a two-year-old child from Gilroy who suffered a “very serious trauma injury” and was not able to receive timely care. It turns out this child was treated and is in recovery.

Of course, nurses can point to patient care issues that happen day after day due to under-staffing and poor management. However, the county does not seem as interested in publicizing the truth. So, let’s set things straight. Don’t be tricked! Short staffing and under paid medical workers lead to poor patient care. Stay tuned for the results of the strike, and the negotiated settlement.