SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of Sharp HealthCare nurses held a public vote count Thursday morning and authorized a strike.
Around 2,200 Sharp nurses cast their votes at a series of meetings last week and 98 percent of them voted to strike, according to Jeff Rogers of the United Nurses Associations of California. The nurses said the management is out of touch and in denial of an increasing nurse turnover crisis.
The nurses are concerned experienced nurses are leaving Sharp for better pay and new hires are inexperienced, compromising care.
“We’ve spent months explaining to management why experienced nurses are a necessary part of patient care at Sharp. Unfortunately, management refuses to acknowledge how turnover is impacting the working conditions of the nurses who remain. While they claim turnover rates are lower than average, they miss the underlying point that Sharp is bleeding nurses and why it matters,” said Christina Magnusen, RN, from Sharp Grossmont.
Sharp is on track to lose nearly 700 nurses this year, and has been trying to fill the gaps with hundreds of thousands of hours of overtime and doubletime for current nurses and by adding traveling nurses to the schedule, according to Christy McConville, spokeswoman for Sharp Professional Nurses Network.
Rogers said their bargaining team will meet Thursday night to determine when to issue a 10-day notice to Sharp HealthCare, letting them know the nurses are walking off the job.
Sharp HealthCare Vice President John Cihomsky told FOX 5 negotiations are on-going and a meeting is scheduled on Nov. 15.
“Sharp HealthCare is disappointed that the nurse union (SPNN/UNAC) has voted to authorize a strike at Sharp hospitals, rather than accept the generous economic proposal that was offered. Sharp HealthCare’s proposal increases nurse base rate of pay by 16 to 26 percent over a three-year period. The year one increase for our nurses ranges between 7 and 12 percent. Additional economic increases are also available when nurses work certain shifts or are on call.
Sharp is hopeful that both parties will come to a contract agreement before a strike notice is given or a strike commences. To ensure quality patient care Sharp is making comprehensive plans to prepare for a strike, which includes securing qualified replacement nurses. Sharp will be fully prepared to provide high-quality care to patients and family members if a nurse strike comes to fruition. Sharp and the nurse union have a scheduled meeting on November 15, and we are hopeful that meaningful and significant progress is achieved.”
During a protest in early October, an 11-year nursing veteran explained what she said was a majority of the concerns.
“What we’d really like to see is better safety conditions for our patients. We want to make sure that our wages are competitive so we can retain the nurses that we train and we can attract experienced nurses so we can keep them. Right now, we are working short and our nurses are leaving in droves for better pay,” the veteran nurse said.