Nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center announced they will stage a one-day strike on June 23, 2022, claiming they are understaffed, overworked and lacking in needed supplies to adequtely do their job.
The workers, represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), gave their 10-day notice of the walkout late last week, saying they are burned out.
“In the last four months, we have seen 50 nurses leave our hospital due to the poor working conditions that put patient care in jeopardy,” said Tinny Abogado, a registered nurse at LAMC for 20 years. “It pains me to see experienced nurses leave our hospital.”
Abogado said RNs often work 12-hour shifts without a break.
“They reach for supplies and they are just not there,” he said. “Kaiser made $8.1 billion in profits last year — they have enough money to make sure we have syringes when we need them, ancillary staff to help care for our patients and relief nurses to provide RNs with meal breaks.”
In a statement issued Friday, Kaiser said it is disappointed that the union is calling on the hospital’s 1,200 CNA-represented nurses to “walk away from their patients’ bedsides.”
“We hope CNA will stay at the bargaining table meaningfully working toward an agreement that will allow us to demonstrate our high regard and respect for our nurses,” the statement said.
Kaiser said it has contingency plans in place to keep operations up and running if the one-day walkout happens.
The nurses’ labor contract expired Sept. 30, 2021 and they have been in negotiations for a new contract ever since with little to no movement on key issues. They are calling on Kaiser to invest in nursing staff, ensure that every unit on every shift has appropriate supplies and invest in ancillary staff.
Union representative Jed Smith said 1,250 CNA-represented nurses were employed at LAMC a couple months ago, but that has since fallen to 1,190. Wages are also part of the negotitations, Smith said, although he didn’t reveal what their averages wages are, or how big of a hike they are seeking.
“Wages are always an issue,” he said. “That’s important in recruiting and retaining nurses. Right now there’s a drought in nursing because nurses don’t want to work in acute-care hospitals with the pandemic going on and low staffing.”
Hospital records indicate a chronic problem with nurses unable to take their meal breaks during a 12.5-hour shift because there is no one to relieve them, the union said, adding that numerous studies have shown a link between fatigue among healthcare workers and an increase in medical errors.
The nurses say patient care is compromised when they are expected to care for too many sick patients without help from ancillary staff, and to work without breaks.
“We became nurses because we want to be there for our patients when they need us,” Abogado said. “Our patients deserve the best and we are fighting so they can get what they deserve.”