For Immediate Release July 14, 2003
Contact Liz Jacobs, 510-273-2232; David Monkawa 818-262-4495
RNs at San Pedro Hospital Vote to Join the California Nurses Association
A two-day election at San Pedro Hospital in Southern California, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, was capped by a vote count today with the California Nurses Association (CNA) winning representation of 200 Registered Nurses at the hospital.
RNs first approached the nurses association in early 2003 and, by May 2003, CNA had filed for the election. The hospital is owned by the Little Company of Mercy, a subsidiary of Seattle-based Providence Health System.
"This is a vote for justice on behalf of our patients," said Lora Smith, an RN for six years in the Critical Care Unit at San Pedro. "We'll now have the ability to speak out about the quality of care that's delivered to our patients, and have CNA's support behind us."
Smith predicts that CNA's presence will also attract more RNs to the hospital, an additional benefit for patients as well as for the nurses.
In the brief six weeks between the election filing by CNA at the labor board, and the election itself, hospital officials began an anti-union campaign designed to dissuade the RNs from voting for CNA, utilizing mandatory meetings, e-mail messages, and literature. In the week leading up to the election, RNs were treated to breakfasts, lunches and dinners at no cost, in a final attempt to convince them the hospital should remain union-free.
"Despite some impact on some of the RNs, clearly most of us were not influenced enough to reject CNA," said Phyllis Whitmore, an RN at San Pedro Hospital for 29 years, now working in the GI Lab and Ambulatory Care. "Many RNs were determined to vote for CNA in order to address many things, including issues of patient care, retirement, and wages."
Wage disparities resulting from a subjective merit pay system and a failure by the hospital to establish incentives for long-term RNs drove many of them to seek representation with the nurses association. Also of major concern were patient care issues along with scheduling practices and staffing needs.
"Registered Nurses in our organization have understood their power and effectively exercised their influence on behalf of their patients and their profession for decades," said David Johnson, Southern California Director for the California Nurses Association. "We are experiencing a tremendous wave of registered nurses at non-union hospitals coming to that realization and approaching us for representation."
Johnson points to the election filings by CNA for over 5,000 RNs at 19 hospitals in California run by Tenet Healthcare over the past 3 months. The nurses association currently represents 50,000 RNs at 150 facilities statewide.