SHARP NURSES CALL 3-DAY STRIKE STARTING MONDAY

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Update 11 p.m. -The strike set for  Monday has been called of due to progress in negotiations, the nurses' union has indicated.

Photo: United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals

East County News Service

November 27, 2016 (San Diego) – Registered nurses at Sharp Healthcare facilities announced Friday that they will stage a three-day strike starting Monday, November 28th after contract negotiation talks broke down.

The union represents Sharp's 4,800 registered nurses, most of whom are based at Sharp hospitals, including Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa.

Licensed vocational nurses and health care partners who work at the hospital are not part of the nurse union bargaining unit. The registered nurses who work in Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers offices are also not a part of the nurse union bargaining unit, according to Sharp’s website.

Jeff Rogers, a communications specialist for the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, the union representing the nurses, says Sharp has failed to address key issues in a meaningful way. He adds, “This failure only escalates the nurse recruitment and retention crisis. At this time, negotiations have stalled and the nurses are prepared to conduct our announced strike,” Times of San Diego reports.

Dan Gross, Sharp executive vice president, said his organization was “extremely disappointed” in the union’s action.  He voiced concern over the impact a strike could have on patients and the community, though Sharp has said it has contracted with a private firm to provide qualified nurses during the strike.

One key difference is over pay. The union claims Sharp is paying less than competitive local healthcare facilities, causing high turnover among nursing staff. Sharp has offered a pay raise over three years, but the union has said some nurses could actually have pay cuts under the plan, which union President Christina Magnuses has said would be subject to management favoritism.

Another sticking point is over whether or not nurses should be required to pay union dues.  The union wants a commitment that only nurses who belong to the union can be hired by Sharp, while Sharp has said in a statement that it wants “individual choice” for nurses on whether or not to belong to the union.