Sharp HealthCare nurses announce they will not strike

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 5:51 p.m. — Sharp HealthCare announced that the impending nurse strike that was set to being Monday, Nov. 28 will not proceed. While the nurses will not strike, their union and Sharp are still working toward a new agreement. 

This is the statement released late Sunday by the group:

We are pleased to announce that SPNN/UNAC has rescinded their 10-day strike notice and that there will be no strike by Sharp’s nurses tomorrow, Monday, November 28. While the Union and Sharp have not reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining contract, the parties will continue their negotiations toward that goal. This is an excellent development for our patients, the San Diego community and our employees. We remain optimistic that Sharp and the Union will succeed in reaching agreement on a new contract.

3:30 p.m. — The Sharp Healthcare nurses union has formed a rapid response team of experienced registered nurses to be in place during their three-day strike beginning Monday morning, the union announced late Saturday.

Meantime, Sharp Hospital officials announced this weekend that they will be prepared with replacements, and will welcome nurses who don’t strike. And 
management framed the issue of a union shop as one of individual freedom. The members of the union’s rapid response team would voluntarily cross the picket line to handle any emergency, then return to the picket line once the situation has been stabilized and can be taken over by the replacement nurses, according to union officials in a prepared statement.

"A strike is always the last resort for any nurse,” Jackie Young, leader of the team said. "It’s wrenching to walk away from the bedside. But as nurses, we’re patient advocates by calling and by law.

The team is composed of RNs from Sharp’s critical care units including the emergency room, intensive care unit, labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care unit. The team will be on standby every day of the strike. "We are concerned for our patients if the nurse turnover crisis continues without a solution," Young said. "That’s why we’re prepared to take this extraordinary step in the long-term best interests of our patients.’"

In the war of news releases this weekend, Sharp Hospital officials also sent out their message.

"Many nurses have expressed appreciation for the generous wage increases Sharp has offered, and they are showing their commitment by planning not to honor the strike and be at work on Monday," Dan Gross, Sharp Healthcare’s executive vice president, said in a statement released Friday night. "For these nurses, patients come first."

Focus of the negotiations pivoted Friday to whether or not Sharp nurses should be compelled to join the union, or be fired for not paying union dues.

"Paying union dues should be an issue of individual freedom and choice, not an organizational mandate," Gross said. "By putting their fervent desire for a closed shop, and the revenue additional union dues would generate, over and above being at the bedside for patients, SPNN/UNAC is making a powerful statement about what matters most to them."

Friday’s daylong negotiation session failed to reach an agreement and union officials declined Sharp’s offer to continue negotiating through the weekend.

"Sharp has had ten days’ notice to prepare for the strike," Nurse Sam Ciechanowicz said Saturday. "They can cancel it at any time by committing to fix the turnover problem. If they don’t, and we must go forward with the strike, we’ll be ready to step in if needed to save a life."

The nurses intend to return to work Thursday. "I handle life-and-death emergencies every day, and no one knows our hospital better than our nurses," Ciechanowicz said. "If we’re needed, we’ll be there."

The union delivered the required 10-day notice to the hospital chain’s management on Nov. 17, a week after 98 percent of around 2,200 Sharp nurses who cast ballots rejected the company’s latest bargaining offer.

The union planned a picket sign-making party Sunday night at its headquarters in advance of Monday’s 7 a.m. walkout.

Categories: Local San Diego News