SAN DIEGO (CNS) - As the union representing Sharp Healthcare nurses prepares to strike Monday, hospital officials announced that they will be prepared with replacements, and will welcome nurses who don't strike.
"Many nurses have expressed appreciation for the generous wage increases Sharp has offered, and they are showing their commitment by planning not to honor the strike and be at work on Monday," Dan Gross, Sharp Healthcare's executive vice president, said Friday night. "For these nurses, patients come first."
Friday's daylong negotiation session failed to reach an agreement and union officials declined Sharp's offer to continue negotiating through the weekend.
"Sharp has not addressed in a meaningful way any of the nurses' core issues," said Jeff Rogers, a communications specialist for the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care professionals, which represents the nurses.
"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."
Dan Gross, Sharp executive vice president, said his organization was "extremely disappointed that the union took this position."
"Clearly, the union's desire for a closed shop and the money it would net outweighs their commitment to assuring the nurses they represent do not experience the economic loss that accompanies a strike and the potential impact a strike can have on their patients and the community," Gross said.
Sharp executives said they have contracted with a firm to provide trained nurses during any walkout.
The Sharp Professional Nurses Network would have called off the strike if Sharp had agreed to a counteroffer in which new nurses would be required to pay union dues and those who did not would be fired, Rogers said.
According to a company statement, Sharp remains "committed to individual choice for its nurses when it comes to paying dues."
The nurses intend to return to work Thursday.
The union delivered the required 10-day notice to the hospital chain's management on Nov. 17, a week after 98 percent of around 2,200 Sharp nurses who cast ballots rejected the company's latest bargaining offer.
One core issue listed by the union is pay, which union officials say is not in line with other large San Diego health care companies.
A second core issue is how to deal with cancellations when a nurse reports for his or her regularly-scheduled shift and is sent home.
Other issues include union representatives having access to the nurses in the hospitals and requiring employees to join the union.
Sharp officials said they had "offered numerous concessions and enhancements to previous proposals," which included changes in compensation and union representative access to hospitals.
Sharp previously offered to hike base pay by 16 to 26 percent over a three-year period, with nearly half implemented in the first year, according to the company.
However, union President Christina Magnusen said that was not entirely accurate.
"Only a quarter of the nurses could get that raise, at most," Magnusen said. "It's subject to management favoritism.
"Some nurses could actually see pay cuts under that proposal and raises gained one year could be taken away the next. Clearly, it's not going to recruit and retain strong nurses."
According to Sharp, a report from the California Hospital Association found that the chain's 2015 full- and part-time nursing turnover rate was 8.4 percent, the lowest in San Diego County -- and this year's numbers were about the same.
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