CA Hospital Patient's Death Betrays a Trust
CNA/NNU, please don't tell us this strike was about patient care. There is nothing wrong with fighting for better pay and benefits. If it had been about patient advocacy, however, you would have stayed at the bedside.
Strikes disrupt patient care. Unions know that, and that is why strike threats carry weight. At least one study indicates that mortality rates jump by nearly 20% when patients are admitted during strikes. Unions know that hospitals will be hard pressed to find qualified replacement staff on-the-fly because there is a nationwide nursing shortage. So, when that labor disruption leads to the injury or death of a patient, nobody should be surprised and shocked.
As for Sutter Health, this tragedy illustrates how management gets the union it deserves. Sutter claims the five-day lockout was necessary because that was the shortest contract they could sign with the nurse staffing agency. That may be true, but contracts can be redrawn.
Kaiser Permanente hospitals, for example, were also the target of one- and three-day strikes last month but their union nurses were back on the job the next day. Perhaps the five-day lockout at Alta Bates was a punitive measure from hospital leadership to hit nurses in the paycheck and discourage them from future strikes. Clearly there was brinksmanship at play here, and apparently at least one patient suffered for it.
Sometimes in these labor disputes, healthcare professionals forget what line of work they're in. Hard noses, bare knuckles, and sharp elbows might work at a tire factory or a pier on Long Beach, but they aren't appropriate in a healthcare setting.
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