UCLA Health System statement regarding nurse union activity
A San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order June 8 barring a planned one-day strike at University of California medical centers by the California Nurses Association (CNA), which represents approximately 10,800 UC nurses.
Following is a statement from the UCLA Health:
We can only speak to the situation at UCLA, where we not only exceed the state's nurse-patient ratios but have a formal Break Relief Plan that we developed with the CNA. Patient care is the top priority for everyone here — our amazing team of doctors, nurses and staff — who are all dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care.
The UCLA Health receives thousands of applications for nursing positions. Why? Because we respect and admire the dedication and professionalism of our nursing staff, support them if they want to further their education, and provide extraordinary benefits and above-market salaries. We hope and trust that the California Nurses Association will rejoin the University of California at the bargaining table so these negotiations can get back on track.
The CNA's registered nurses had planned to walk out on June 10, but in issuing the temporary restraining order, the judge found that the strike might violate the CNA's contract with the University of California and could endanger public safety. The judge scheduled a June 18 hearing to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted.
Dwaine Duckett, the University of California's vice president for human resources, issued the following statement on the June 8 ruling:
The California Nurses Association and its national leadership called for this strike as a tactical ploy in a campaign to increase membership rolls by building up staffing levels. This ruling is a victory for our dedicated nurses, and most importantly, a victory for our patients. We are pleased that this attempt by CNA union leadership to leverage public health as a negotiations tactic has been stopped. Union leadership would do better to concentrate on reaching the equitable contract that our nurses so well deserve and that will best protect patients under our care.
With contract negotiations between UC and CNA in their early stages, all provisions of the current 2009 contract — including the "No Strike" provision — remain in effect.
UC had complained to PERB, the state labor board that oversees public sector collective bargaining, that the union's planned June 10 strike was unlawful and violated that provision. The university also said CNA's actions constituted bad faith bargaining and jeopardized the health and safety of patients. PERB concurred, and sought the temporary restraining order issued today.
We value our nurses and pay competitive market-rate wages — a fact reflected in our current contract with CNA. Under terms of the 2009 contract, eligible registered nurses will receive a 2 percent step increase this July, as well as an additional 2 percent across-the-board salary increase in September. This is in an environment where most professionals are not getting increases at all.
UC nurses are paid properly, and deservingly so. They have a tough job and they're good at it. Patient safety also is not an issue, contrary to what the CNA leadership had been claiming in public. Staffing ratios are regulated by the state, and the university complies with the law.
CNA threatened to strike in 2005, but was blocked from walking out by a court order on the grounds of public health and safety. PERB recently ruled that CNA's 2005 strike threat constituted an unfair practice and ordered a hearing to determine the extent of the union's financial liability to UC for the costs it incurred in preparing for that strike.
As was the case in 2005, UC has taken all necessary preparations to ensure that medical centers can deliver high-quality, seamless patient care in the event of a walk-out, at a cost of millions of dollars. Our primary concern is patient care.