Nurses Who Went on Strike in California Locked Out

The California strike that was discussed here did in fact happen yesterday. Today, the nurses who participated in the strike were locked out by hospitals, in a continuing dispute over health care costs, sick leave, and staffing levels.

Official numbers on how many nurses went on strike on Thursday don’t seem to be available, but the California Nurses’ Association expected about 6,000 nurses to participate, while hospital officials said that a “significant number” of nurses crossed the picket lines.

Hospital officials said replacement nurses had been brought in and patient care was not immediately affected.

Nurses at the Sutter hospitals would be allowed to return to work on Saturday, spokeswoman Karen Garner said. Nurses at the Long Beach hospital would be allowed to return Tuesday.

A union official blasted the hospitals for refusing to allow nurses to immediately return, and said the quality of patient care would suffer during a lockout.

“For a one-day strike, it’s unwarranted, it’s unnecessary and it’s punitive,” said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the association.

Hospital officials criticized the union for calling the strike just before Christmas.

“It’s unfortunate and disappointing that the union called this disruptive strike, especially during the holidays, when only the sickest of the sick are in the hospital, Sutter spokeswoman Kami Lloyd said in a statement late Thursday.

Lloyd did not have an exact number of the nurses who crossed picket lines during the strike but said 63 percent of the nurses at the Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch crossed picket lines, while 59 percent went to work at the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

Union officials disputed the hospital’s numbers, but could not say how many nurses participated in the strike.

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