Alta Bates Nurses Vote for Strike

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 07, 2008

Registered Nurses at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center have voted to call for a 10-day strike, along with nurses at 10 other Sutter Health facilities. 

The ongoing struggle between the California Nurses Association (CNA) and Sutter, which has already brought two short walkouts to Berkeley’s only hospitals could now be headed to a full-fledged strike. 

Meanwhile, labor talks have opened with another major Berkeley employer, the University of California. 

Bargaining talks began in Berkeley Thursday between the university and members of the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), which represents 10,000 researchers and technicians in the UC system. 

CNA has called two previous two-day walkouts at Sutter hospitals since its last major strike, leading to five-day lockouts by the Sacamento-based hospital chain. 

The vote at Alta Bates followed similar votes at California Pacific Medical Center and Sutter Solano, with votes held during the remainder of the week at the remainder of the 11 Bay Area Sutter facilities employing 5,000 CNA members. 

Among the issues in dispute are changes in healthcare benefits and costs for current employees, retirees and patient care issues. 

No date was announced for the walkout, which must be preceded by a 10-day notice to the hospitals. 

Tanya Smith, a UC Berkeley editor and president of union Local 1, said the issues for her members are fair pay and stronger benefits protections. 

Jelger Kalmjin, the union’s national president, said wages for UC members have fallen more then 10 percent behind the Consumer Price Index during over past 15 years.