Five thousand nurses are getting ready to strike after the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) failed to reach a deal with the two hospitals it represents. Multiple contract issues remain unresolved.
Since April 1st, the nurses have been working without a contract. According to the law, a 10-day notice is required. The nurses said that the key issues include addressing chronic staffing problems; supporting mental health and wellness; and ensuring competitive wages and benefits. According to the CRONA website, the strike is set to begin at 6:45 a.m. at Stanford and 7 a.m. at Packard. The union has not set an end date for the strike.
A recent survey by the independent union CRONA found that as many as 45% of nurses who participated said they are considering leaving the hospitals due to increased workloads from more seriously ill patients and persistent short-staffing, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
California has a nursing shortage of approximately 40,000, or a 14% gap, as many nurses are leaving the profession, according to preliminary data by the Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care at the University of California, San Francisco.
The hospitals’ strong financial standing is an opportunity to invest in their nurses to enable sustainable careers, according to CRONA. In a recent financial disclosure, the hospitals reported their joint operating surplus increased by $676 million in 2021 and reported a combined revenue of $8.3 billion.
CRONA is negotiating for better retiree medical benefits, which currently only cover a few years of premiums if a nurse retires before age 65, even if they have worked at the hospital for 30 years. The nurses also want a commitment from the hospitals for higher nurse staffing, as the complexity of many cases at the hospitals exceeds that of most hospitals in the country.