UC nurses hit the picket lines in San Diego and across Californi - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

UC nurses hit the picket lines in San Diego and across California

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - UC San Diego Medical Center nurses rallied outside two hospitals Thursday as part of actions across the state amid contract talks between the UC system and the union.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United held the pickets and rallies outside Thornton Hospital in La Jolla and UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest earlier Thursday to press their demands in the contract negotiation process regarding scheduling, retirement benefits and overtime policies, according to the union.

"We have been in bargaining with UC for over eight months with dozens of takeaways still on the table that affect our ability to best care for our patients and undermine our quality of life," said Maureen Berry, a nurse at UC Irvine. "As a public university, UC must respect and protect the patients and the communities we serve."

The union says that its proposals would involve scheduling registered nurses based on patient illness needs rather than budgetary goals, protect nurses from being deployed in areas in which they have no expertise, and maintain protection from mandatory overtime. The union represents 14,000 RNs at UC hospitals, medical centers and student health centers.

Demonstrations were also held at UC Irvine Health Douglas Hospital, Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica and three others.

The demonstrations in San Diego did not disrupt patient care, a spokeswoman said.

The University of California Office of the President issued the following statement on the matter:

The University of California is eager to finalize a comprehensive contract that recognizes the integral role our nurses play in patient care and their significant contributions to the university overall. 

UC is committed to market-competitive wages, excellent health and retirement benefits, and safe working conditions for our 14,000 nurses.  

UC's proposal includes the following: 

  • Market-competitive wages: UC has a long-established track record of paying nurses market-competitive wages, and UC strives for the same in its bargaining with CNA. 
  • Quality health care: Nurses and their families will continue to receive the same excellent health benefits as other UC employees, with a generous selection of health plans at more reasonable rates than those offered by many employers. 
  • Excellent retirement benefits: Current nurses will see no change in their pension benefits, while future nurses would be given a choice between a traditional pension plan and a 401(k)-style plan. Few employers offer this kind of choice.

All UC medical centers meet and, in many cases, exceed California's legally mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Each center has established protocols to ensure staffing issues and concerns are addressed proactively.   

Despite the current nursing shortage, UC medical centers receive approximately 16 applicants on average for each nurse vacancy. Meanwhile, UC's retention rate is very strong compared with other California hospitals: 90 to 95 percent.  

The university believes its proposal reflects the skills, contributions and dedication of its nurses. We hope to come to an agreement with CNA as soon as possible to continue delivering excellent care and services to our patients.  

Beyond this, we believe the proper venue for the discussion of nuanced, complex issues is at the negotiating table - not through the media.

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