Nurses in California are flexing their muscle in a relentless political dogfight with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and their well-oiled organization will storm into Monterey County on Wednesday to promote their cause.
The battle centers on efforts to improve the nurse-to-patient ratio in hospitals and Schwarzenegger's efforts on behalf of state hospitals to delay implementing the new ratios.
"California is really at the cutting edge of this crisis," said Marty Garza of Service Employees International Union Local 817, which represents nurses at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. "How the issue is resolved in California will be important for health care across the country."
So far, nurses and the unions representing them have won key court decisions, but are continuing to hammer the governor in a very public campaign. Their campaign will become even more visible this week when the California Nurses Association unveils billboards criticizing Schwarzenegger's handling of the issue.
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