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By Miriam Raftery

November 15, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Nurses may soon be going out on strike at Sharp Healthcare facilities, including Grossmont Hospital here in East County.

The union, Sharp Professional Nurses Network, overwhelmingly approved a strike, with over 98% voting to strike unless wages are raised more than the 16 to 26 percent that Sharp has proposed over the next three years.

According to the union, the big problem is high turnover among nurses, who are leaving to take jobs at other hospitals that are paying $8 to $16 an hour more. Sharp has about 350 fewer nurses than are needed and worse, Sharp is slated to lose nearly 700 nurses this year, the union contends. 

The shortfall has resulted in extensive overtime, with some nurses working double-time to fill the gaps, according to the union, an affiliate of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals.

The union is required to give Sharp 10 days’ notice before any strike is actually called, KPBS reports. Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing.

Sharp claims its turnover rate is lower than the average for the state, San Diego and Southern California.  Sharp has issued a statement indicating it hopes both parties will reach an agreement before a strike notice is issued, but adds, “To ensure quality patient care, Sharp is making comprehensive plans to prepare for a strike, which includes securing qualified replacement nurses.”

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