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Local nurses strike for 24 hours

Nurses hold a strike in front of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Photo by Lauren Wassam

Over 300 nurses from Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center and Twin Cities Community Hospital recently went on strike to protest their contracts.

The strike occurred from 7 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, until 6:59 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, in front of the Tenet Healthcare Corporation-owned hospitals, located in San Luis Obispo County.

Janice Ames, a Sierra Vista Registered Nurse (RN) and union representative, said the union and Tenet had conversations about a negotiation for 12 months before the strike.

Ames said she and other union members had felt this strike was the next step for a better contract. 

According to Ames, the contract has three main priorities.

The first is to invest in more RNs, with the idea being that with the recruitment of new nurses, the retention of current and experienced nurses will be greater. 

This would ultimately lead to the second priority; a focus on optimal patient care. This priority is in sync with the agenda of National Nurses United, the largest organization of Registered Nurses in the United States. 

The third priority, according to Ames, is to cut back on mandatory on-call and overtime hours. 

According to a news release published by the National Nurses United, data collected by Tenet shows that the for-profit healthcare organization had paid almost $8 million in penalties from 2016-2018 for more than 140,000 missed meal breaks in the eight Tenet owned hospitals in California.

The $8 million in penalty pay does not include Tenets’ hospitals in Arizona and Florida.

Nurses chanting during strike in front of Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. Video by Lauren Wassam